Fathering…

Did anyone see this report the other day?

In our 50 years of research in every continent but Antarctica, we have found that nothing has as strong and consistent an effect on personality development as does being rejected by a parent — especially by a father — in childhood,” said study co-author Ronald Rohner, director of the Ronald and Nancy Rohner Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection at the University of Connecticut, in Storrs.

Study author Rohner said fathers may have a greater impact on a child’s personality because children and teenagers pay more attention to the parent who seems to have greater interpersonal power, or influence, in the family’s power hierarchy.

He explained that when a father is perceived as having more power, even if he spends less time with the children, he can have a greater impact. That’s because his comments or actions seem to stand out more notably. This is despite the fact that, all over the world, mothers tend to spend more time with kids than fathers do.

Rohner said the research shows that society tends to place too much emphasis on the impact of mothers on children, often blaming them for troublesome personality traits or behaviors, even into adulthood. “We need to start giving greater acclaim to dads, and put them on an equal footing with moms in terms of their impact on children,” he said.

“Our work should encourage dads to get really involved in the loving care of their children at an early age,” Rohner said. “Their kids will be measurably better off.”

The publishing of this report so close to Fathers day is I am sure no accident, but nevertheless it does seem to be saying something relatively new. Most previous research into parenting has focussed on mothering- in both a positive and negative way. Mothers have been both blamed and beatified. This study is clearly suggesting that we fathers have more impact and influence than we could have suspected.

Which is rather sobering.

I am the proud father of a soon-to-be 12 year old and a 16 year old who are quite simply the best thing that ever happened to me, however, I never knew my own father in childhood. The amniotic fluid that I squelched in was rather lacking in certain nutrients and I can never be sure how this affected me, for good and ill.

What I can long for though is for this next generation to know something more, something better and more whole…

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