The Telegraph

Fathers 'have key role with children' after families split

The Telegraph, London, U.K., By Sarah Womack, Social Affairs Correspondent, May 26, 2004

The importance of fathers in the emotional development of children is emphasised today in a study of separated parents in Bristol.

Researchers say they found a direct relationship between children's behavioural problems and the amount of contact they had with their natural father.

The effect was more pronounced in single-parent families, particularly where the mother was a teenager. In such cases, children were especially vulnerable emotionally if they had no contact with their father.

The findings are published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry amid protests by fathers about access to children after a family break-up.

Prof Judy Dunn, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, studied 162 children whose parents had separated. Of those children, 18 per cent had no contact with their father and 16 per cent had contact less than once a month.

The children were interviewed, initially at the age of eight and a half, about their relationships with their mother, fathers and stepfathers. Mothers were asked to report on whether their children were aggressive and delinquent, or withdrawn, anxious or depressed.

There were fewer problems relating to aggression with a child and its mother and non-resident father if there was good contact between the father and the child and their relationship was good.
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Institute of Psychiatry - King's College London

Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004.