Hands-On Dads Have Smarter Kids

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We all know that children with loving parents and stable homes tend to be well-adjusted, for the most part – which makes perfect sense. But it’s not just a mother’s nurturing spirit that does the trick. A new study shows that fathers who are actively involved in raising their children – even if they don’t live with them – can have a huge impact on their behavior and intelligence.

Researchers at Concordia University in Montreal found that children of dads who were hands-on and who used positive parenting skills – such as setting limits and allowing kids to explore and learn in a protected environment – tended to have fewer behavioral problems and did better on intelligence tests, reports The Montreal Gazette.

“Compared with other children with absentee dads, kids whose fathers were active parents in early and middle childhood had fewer behavioral problems and higher intellectual abilities as they grew older – even among socio-economically, at-risk families,” lead author Erin Pougnet told the paper.

It’s no surprise that these children fare better. Dads still get a bad rap in so many TV shows, movies, ad campaigns – and I think that notion is outdated. What did surprise me, however, is that hands-on fathering ups intelligence (the behavior part seems more obvious). Pretty cool stuff.

Co-author Lisa A. Serbin was quick to point out, however, that single mothers aren’t necessarily at a disadvantage. “While our study examined the important role dads play in the development of their children, kids don’t necessarily do poorly without their fathers,” she told The Montreal Gazette. “Mothers and other caregivers are also important. No doubt, fathers have a major impact, but there are definitely many alternative ways to raise a healthy child. Some kids with no contact with fathers, or with distant dads, do well intellectually and emotionally.”

Researchers also found that girls were the most affected by absentee fathers, especially girls whose fathers were absent during their middle childhood (between ages nine and 13). These girls had higher levels of emotional problems at school.

(Photo: Digital Vision)