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SALT LAKE CITY — Moms, are your children constantly acting out? Their less-than-stellar behavior could be a direct result of you being unsupportive of their father’s parenting style.
That’s the theory backed by a new British Psychological Society study, which revealed that when a mother fails to support her children’s father in his parenting, their children often exhibit more defiance toward him.
Researchers surveyed parents from over 100 families about co-parenting practices, parenting techniques and the quality of the mother/father relationships. All of the mothers and fathers questioned were either married or living together, according to Science Daily.
An analysis of the responses found that when a father is seemingly unsupportive of a mother in her parenting, there was little to no impact on the children. Turn the tables, however, and an unsupported dad perceived much more negative behavior from his kids — such as deliberately breaking toys and failure to respond to discipline.
In short: If dad doesn’t feel empowered to step into the role, he may not be able to do it well.
“Compared to mothering, the fathering role may be less clearly socially defined and fathers may withdraw from it,” said doctoral researcher Rachel Latham. ”Whereas mothers — and fathers — may see the mother’s role as less discretionary than fathers.”
It’s important that fathers feel backed up in a job that may not come as naturally to them, Latham said. And that’s where their partners come in.
“It could simply be that fathers don’t feel as confident or competent in their role because, although it is changing, commonly they are still less likely to be the primary child carer,” Latham said.
It’s to be noted that the study did not find cause, just a link. But it still highlighted the fact that fathers, as well as mothers, should be included in the study of a child’s well-being, study authors wrote.
The study results were presented last week at the British Psychology Society’s annual conference in Liverpool.