Factors Influencing the Father-Child Relationship.



Much research regarding attachment and child-caregiver relationships revolve around the relationship the child has with their mother. While there is research conducting of father-child relationships, a lot less is known as to the nature of these relationships and how they affect the child.

It has been suggested that the relationship between the father and the child at their teenage years is influenced by the fathers desire to have children. This may cause them to be more engaged with their child, and so tighten the bond between them.

Dr Diana Baumgarten investigated this using interviews and evaluations of eight father-teenager relationships (all fathers between the ages of 46 and 58, and all teenagers between the ages of 16 and 21). All participants were from similar households in Switzerland, and research focused on every day life and relationships between the teenager and the father.

The fathers earlier desire to have children was one of the factors found to affect the relationship. The stronger the desire, and the more aware the father was of it, the clearer perception the father has of his relationship with his child. “Equivalent” fathers were considered to be those who allowed more burdens on themselves, such as career goals, which develop slowly and take a toll on the relationship. But, they are also more likely to see the child an individual counterpart, more so than the other two father categories described by the author (“supplementary” and “satellite” fathers).

A further finding from this study the “activity norm”. While mothers tend to be more available to the child, and so can live and work on their relationship every day, fathers must work a little bit harder to develop a relationship with their child. The bond can be increased through special and extraordinary activities, which will help to develop the relationship further through quality time doing something that is just theirs. So fathers who don’t have a lot of free time for their children may struggle to develop as strong a bond as those who can spend more time with them.

Finally, communication and exchanging of views and opinions is another contributing factor. This has been used for the strength of mother-child relationships, but never really applied to the father. Now we can see that this factor is important for father-child relationships also, as this study revealed that the relationship with the father is often compared to the relationship of the mother.


Written by: Philippa Berry

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Published on: 8th May 2013

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