A Father’s Influence Makes for Better Grades

A Father’s Influence Makes for Better Grades

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Dads from low-income settings in particular need to get more involved more in their children’s education.

Homework: Not a job for the dog.

Homework: Not a job for the dog.

The warmth of a father’s love has a special influence on young people, and makes them feel optimistic and determined to strive for greater things. It also boosts the math grades of teenage girls and the language ability of boys, says Dr. Marie-Anne Suizzo of the University of Texas.

Adolescents from low-income families in particular are more likely than their middle-class peers to underachieve and to drop out of school. Studies have shown, however, that a positive attitude towards school work and the support and encouragement from their parents can help at-risk youngsters to overcome the economic barriers and lack of resources they face. Most of the evidence about the effects of parental involvement comes from research on mothers. Little is known, however, about how adolescents experience their fathers’ warmth and the beliefs and behaviours that are most affected by it.

The findings show how fathers can support their teenagers in ways that result in greater optimism, self-efficacy, and, ultimately, higher achievement at school. This is even true for men with low levels of education or those who are not proficient enough in English to help their children with their homework.

“Low-income fathers affect their adolescents’ beliefs about themselves and their future, and these beliefs influence their achievement by increasing their determination to persist on school tasks,” says Suizzo.

These positive effects extend to both sons and daughters, albeit in different ways. Experiencing their father’s warmth first influences daughters’ sense of optimism, and then spills over into their feeling more determined and certain about their academic abilities. This in turn leads to better math grades. There is a more direct link between their fathers’ involvement and teenage boys’ belief in their ability to succeed on the academic front. This heightened self-confidence increased their success in English language arts classes.

Suizzo suggests that there should be more encourgement for fathers to communicate warmth and acceptance to their children, because of the positive influence these emotions have on their well-being.

So there you go Dad, it’s time you got stuck in to the homework help. Mum is busy hiding under the stairs and drinking Prosecco.

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