Research Topic 1:

Father’s stress levels can affect their young children’s cognitive and language development, suggests research in Infant and Child Development. The researchers examined data from 730 families at 17 Head Start locations around the country, and found that children whose fathers had higher levels of parenting stress scored lower on a series of cognitive tests, and among boys, on tests of language development as well. The researchers say that these results point to the need for parenting research and interventions to focus on fathers.

Research Topic 2:
Men who have fond childhood memories of their dads have better coping skills when dealing with stress as an adult, according to new research. Melanie Mallers, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at California State University, Fullerton, who presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Diego. ”Men who experienced a good relationship with their fathers are doing better at coping with stress,” she says. For the study, she interviewed 912 adult men and women, ages 25 to 74. Survey respondents described their daily experiences over an eight-day period, telling whether they were nervous, sad or depressed. They reported each day if they had a stressful event, such as an argument, tension related to work or family or a disagreement with anyone. Having a good childhood relationship with their fathers was linked with better coping skills for men, but was not as strong for women. Men who had a good father-son relationship were more likely to remain stable emotionally when stress hit.

What’s happening? “We think it has to do with the way fathers play with their sons,” Mallers speculates. She’s talking about the tendency for dads to get down on the floor and roughhouse with their young sons. “It’s good, healthy competitive rough-and-tumble play, which teaches them to be active, think outside the box, take more challenges, and adapt to things not necessarily familiar.” Mothers, she says, tend to give their children a sense of security and safety. “We make sure they get to bed on time,” she says. But dads, she says, may be especially skilled at teaching children how to deal with challenges. The study, Mallers says confirms that dads ”play a long-lasting role in the emotional lives of their children, especially their sons.”

The new research follows an emerging trend of giving dads some research attention, says Toni Antonucci, PhD, of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, who is familiar with the research but not involved in it. “I think we’re beginning to understand more and more that fathers have a critical role,” she says.

Susie Bean Gives Team