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20-08-2018 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2018

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2018

The Long-term Effects of Early Paternal Presence on Children’s Behavior

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2018
Angus G. Craig, John M. D. Thompson, Rebecca Slykerman, Clare Wall, Rinki Murphy, Edwin A. Mitchell, Karen E. Waldie
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10826-018-1206-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


A father’s presence in the family is important for promoting adaptive behavioral functioning in children. It is unknown however, if there is a critical time during infancy and childhood for such paternal presence and involvement to affect behaviour. Using data from the Auckland Birthweight Collaborative (ABC) study, we examined the amount of paternal presence children experienced through their first 11 years of life (measured as fathers’ time spent in the same household as their children) and its effect on their behavioral outcomes at 11 years of age. After controlling for potential confounds, children who whose fathers were minimally present (left between 0 and 3.5 years of age) were twice as likely to report clinically significant behavioural difficulties as those whose fathers were present throughout childhood. Those whose fathers were present for early childhood (left between 3.5 and 7 years of age) exhibited no significant differences in their behaviour at 11 years of age when compared to their peers whose fathers remained present. Mothers reported no significant changes in their children’s behavior. Findings suggested that paternal presence early in a child’s life might be most important with regard to promoting adaptive behavioural functioning as they age.

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