Thursday, January 19, 2006

Research on parenting styles

Boston Globe news:
Yale University researcher and child psychiatrist Kyle Pruett is a little more tactful: ''We haven't done enough to help women understand that the differences between a father's style and a mother's doesn't mean your child is at risk. It just means the styles are different." Indeed, research shows that the combination of exposure to mom's and dad's differing styles is what contributes to a child's healthy development. Pruett, a researcher on fathers' involvement, is author of ''Fatherneed, Why Father Care is as Essential as Mother Care for your Child" (Broadway).

''When a mother picks up an infant," says Shapiro, ''she rolls the baby into her breast and provides comfort, warmth, and security. A father picks up a baby and positions him either facing him, looking over his shoulder or facing out to the world. That provides the notion of freedom and interaction. Together, as a package, that's spectacular." Similarly, when mom plays with a toddler, she lets him tell her what to do. That supports his creativity and self-esteem. When dad plays, he typically directs the play: ''I'll throw, you catch." That teaches teamwork.

Pruett's research shows that when a father is involved (including in divorced families), benefits to children include: higher grade completion and eventual income; increased math competency in girls and high literacy rates for boys; greater competence in problem-solving; more empathy and moral sensitivity; less likelihood of engaging in gender stereotyping. New studies indicate that a father's early involvement reduces the likelihood of child abuse.
The article criticizes the idea that a dad is just an "assistant parent".

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