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Bad news for dads this Father's Day. A new study found that, really, fathers have little influence on how their kids turn out as parents. It's moms who hold the most sway!
Researchers from the U.K. filmed 146 mothers and 146 fathers hanging out with their kids and playing games. They also asked parents to fill out questionnaires about their own childhoods. Researchers compared what the respondents said about how they interacted with their mothers and fathers with how they interacted with their kids.
What they found was mothers and fathers in the study who were raised by mothers who showed more affection tended to use positive reinforcement with their own children. Those whose mothers were more controlling tended to criticize their kids more in the footage. How these study participants reported interacting with their fathers appeared to have no bearing on how they interacted with their children.
The study was funded by Wellcome Trust, a biomedical research charity based in London, and published in the European Journal of Public Health. The study's author, Paul Ramchandani of Imperial College London, said the study fosters a great understanding on the role of parenting.
While the study appears to let fathers off the hook, it's important to keep in mind that the number of participants in the study is relatively small and involves parents of a single generation. The role of mom and dad has undergone dramatic changes, with fathers taking on greater responsibility domestically and more women working outside the home.
Give it another decade and maybe we'll see that study participants whose dads made the effort to connect will have kids who do better and are generally more decent people than their less-fortunate peers.