“While maternal attachment has been widely recognised for several decades, the more recent literature on attachment clearly demonstrates that children form important bonds with both parents. Further, evidence has mounted that demonstrates the importance of the attachment developed between father and child. This attachment bond is the beginning of the development of social skills, and social relationships, and, in the broader context of society cannot in any way be considered secondary to the mother-child attachment
The father’s vital role in giving his child the start to a successful future was confirmed by the results of a 40-year Oxford University’s study (Flouri & Buchanan 2002)300 that tracked the lives of 17,000 individuals born in 1958, monitoring their progress at the ages of seven, eleven, sixteen, twenty three and thirty three. They were given scores at each stage according to how big a part their fathers played in such pursuits as reading, helping with homework and accompanying them on outings. The study released in March 2002 found that close paternal involvement not only improves academic performance but also relationships and health. The benefits are greatest for youngsters who establish a strong bond from at least the age of seven. The highest scorers performed best at school, socially and in their marital relationships. After inspection of all the factors influencing a child’s later marital success, such as mental health, academic achievement and emotional behaviour, the influence of a father was most telling.”
A then groundbreaking 25 year study published in 2004, which followed 131 children after their parents divorced makes some bold suggestions which many will view as controversial.
Its central conclusion is that parental divorce negatively impacts a child’s ability to love and be loved within a lasting relationship.
Its key findings include:
- The economic implications of divorce often left parents scrambling to earn income, which meant less time spent with their children. As a result, children felt neglected during periods of their childhood when they needed their parents most
- Children’s views of relationships were affected: they took the view that personal relationships were unreliable, no matter how much contact they had with each parent
- Loneliness and fear of abandonment were significantly increased in the children who took part in the study
- A strong concern for separated parents and who would take care of those parents also featured
- Children were able to…
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