BYU professors Laura Padilla-Walker and Randal Day discovered that with time, the persistence gained through fathers resulted in a lower delinquency rates and a higher engagement in school.
"In our research we ask 'Can your child stick with a task? Can they finish a project? Can they make a goal and complete it?' Learning to stick with it sets a foundation for kids to flourish and to cope with the stress and pressures of life."
Professor Padilla-Walker added: "There are relatively few studies that highlight the unique role of fathers. This research also helps to establish that traits such as persistence - which can be taught - are key to a child's life success."
The researchers point out that dads need to be 'authoritative' but not 'authoritarian' in order to succeed. For instance, an authoritative dad clearly establishes himself as a person the child should respect and responds to the child's needs, whilst maintaining a nurturing home in which the child feels comfortable making mistakes and questioning rules. Authoritarian dads, like authoritative dads, also establish themselves as an authority, but with the major difference that an authoritarian dad does not respond to his child's needs and instead rigidly enforces rules and punishes the child.
The researchers established that the key to success is that children feel their father's warmth and love, that accountability and the reasons behind rules are emphasized, and that children are granted an appropriate level of autonomy.
The findings demonstrated that around 52% of the dads who participated in the study showed above-average levels of authoritative parenting, which influenced their children to become substantially more likely to develop persistence, which in turn led to improved outcomes in school and lower levels of delinquency.
Even though this study focused on assessing children between the ages of 11-14 years living in a two-parent household, the researchers believe that single parents could also play a role in teaching the benefits of persistence, and suggest that future research should be conducted.
Padilla-Walker concludes: "Fathers should continue to try and be involved in their children's lives and engage in high quality interactions, even if the quantity of those interactions might be lower than is desirable."
Written by Petra Rattue