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Spending time with dad may be good for kids' self-esteem

We often discuss on this blog the benefits of having both parents actively involved in their children's lives. Divorce can make this much more difficult, of course, but according to a new study, maintaining a good relationship with children in their early adolescent years is especially beneficial. And quality time spent with fathers, the study found, is especially good for kids' self-esteem.

The study, which was published in the journal Child Development, followed 200 families over a period of seven years, paying special attention to the time kids spent one-on-one with parents. These interactions increased through adolescence and began dropping off again around age 15. Researchers found that the time spent between fathers and their children was especially good for adolescents' self-esteem; the more time kids spent with dad, the higher their self-esteem. Group time with fathers evidently pays off, too. Adolescents who shared time with their fathers in a setting with other people were found to have better social skills.

These interactions can pay off through little or no delinquent behavior and a lower likelihood to give in to peer pressure, the study says. This social time with dads and kids can also lead to an overall higher self-worth.

The study didn't find the same benefits from kids spending alone time with mothers, perhaps because the traditional role of caregiver pays off in other ways. (For example, a previous study found that kids who spent more time alone with their mothers were depressed less often.) Traditionally, time between dads and kids is often spent on leisure and social activities with more "peer-like interaction," the study says, which is important for healthy social development.

In divorced families, traditional parenting roles are likely to shift as both parents take on new roles in separate households. While the study didn't focus specifically on children raised in two households instead of one, the social interaction time between dads and kids remains crucial after a divorce. And it's important for both parents to make room for quality time that boosts kids' self-esteem, reduces the risk of depression and lays the foundation for well-adjusted adulthood.

Source: KETK, "Spending time with Dad good for teen self-esteem," Aug. 24, 2012

· Our firm handles divorce, child custody, fathers' rights and many other family law issues. If you'd like to learn more about our practice, visit our Dallas family law website.

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