A recent study has found that the warmth of a father’s love has a special influence on young people, and makes them feel optimistic and determined to strive for greater things. It also boosts the math grades of teenage girls and the language ability of boys.
The study which was conducted by Dr. Marie-Anne Suizzo of the University of Texas found that adolescents from low-income families in particular are more likely than their middle-class peers to underachieve and to drop out of school. However, a positive attitude towards school work and the support and encouragement from their parents can help at-risk youngsters to overcome the economic barriers and lack of resources they face.
To conduct the research, the research team analysed data from questionnaires completed by 183 sixth-graders about how optimistic and motivated they were about their schoolwork, and how they experienced their fathers. The questionnaires were completed primarily by respondents of Mexican American, African-American and European American descent. Their maths and language arts grades were also obtained. They were analysed together with the questionnaire data. The research team took into account the influence that mothers have on their children’s well-being in their analyses.
Their findings show how fathers can support their teenagers in ways that result in greater optimism, self-efficacy, and, ultimately, higher achievement at school. This is even true for men with low levels of education or those who are not proficient enough in English to help their children with their homework.
“Low-income fathers affect their adolescents’ beliefs about themselves and their future, and these beliefs influence their achievement by increasing their determination to persist on school tasks,” says Suizzo.
Before now, most of the evidence about the effects of parental involvement comes from research on mothers. But this research has shown the tremendous effect a father can have on a child.