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Study: One-on-one time with father leads to higher self-esteem

Following a long-term study of 200 families in Nevada and across the country, researchers have concluded that teenagers who spend more time alone with their fathers have higher self-esteem than those who do not. In addition, teens who spend more time with their dads in group settings tend to have better social skills. The study did not specifically examine the effects of divorce on these findings, however, so it will be interesting to see if additional research is done on the topic and what its results are.

Children who spend more time with their families in general are less likely to engage in delinquent behaviors or give into peer pressure, the study found. But one-on-one time with fathers, specifically, resulted in increased self-worth and social skills. This, researchers believe, is because fathers and teenagers often interact more like peers than like parent and child, engaging in more joking, teasing and playful behavior. This interaction leads to better social interaction, researchers say.

Interestingly, researchers found no similar benefits of spending extra one-on-one time with mothers. This, they believe, is because fathers “go beyond social expectations to devote undivided attention with them” while mothers who spend time with children are perceived as simply fulfilling their expected role as caregiver.

The study does not clarify, however, whether this remains the case after divorce when each parent is heading a separate household. In these divided families, fathers take on those traditional household and parenting duties, shifting their role from “playful interaction” toward “caregiver.” It would be interesting to see whether this lessens the positive effects of one-on-one time with the father.

Source: KETK, “Spending time with Dad good for teen self-esteem,” Aug. 24, 2012

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