Children who live with highly antisocial fathers develop increasingly severe behavioral problems the longer they cohabitate. According to a study published in the recent issue of Child Development, quality time with Dad on its own may not always be the best way to prevent children from misbehaving. Instead, fathers who are prone to rude and disruptive behavior must actively work toward becoming a dependable source of emotional and social support for their kids.
In some ways, this study does confirm the commonly held belief that the more time spent with a child, the better off that child is: Kids of gregarious fathers were also found to have more behavioral problems. Conventional wisdom was only turned on its head amongst youngsters sharing a roof with antisocial fathers, who as a result exhibited more instances of temper tantrums, cheating, swearing and physical attacks than their peers.
Sara Jaffee, Ph.D., who headed up the study at King's College in London, notes that there may be a genetic component to her findings. More research is necessary, however, before hereditary risk of antisocial behavior can be identified.