Fatherhood can help change a man's bad habits

After men become fathers for the first time, they show significant decreases in crime, tobacco and alcohol use, according to a new, 19-year study.

Researchers assessed more than 200 at-risk boys annually from the age of 12 to 31, and examined how men's crime, tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana use changed over time. While previous studies showed that marriage can change a man's , they had not isolated the additional effects of fatherhood.

"These decreases were in addition to the general tendency of boys to engage less in these types of behaviors as they approach and enter adulthood," said David Kerr, assistant professor of psychology at Oregon State University and lead author of the study. "Controlling for the aging process, fatherhood was an independent factor in predicting decreases in crime, alcohol and ."

The study was published in the current issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family. Collaborators included the Oregon Social Learning Center in Eugene, Ore., and the University of Houston.

The researchers also found that men who were well into their 20s and early 30s when they became fathers showed greater decreases in crime and alcohol use, compared to those who had their first child in their teens or early 20s. Men who had children at a more developmentally-expected time could have been more able or willing to embrace fatherhood and shed negative , Kerr said.

"It is hopeful that for both older and younger men, tobacco use tended to decrease following the birth of a first child," Kerr said. "This kind of change could have important for men and for their families."

The study adds to a body of research pointing to key periods when men from may be ripe for intervention, Kerr said.

"This research suggests that fatherhood can be a transformative experience, even for men engaging in high ," he said. "This presents a unique window of opportunity for intervention, because new fathers might be especially willing and ready to hear a more positive message and make behavioral changes."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Do US men value fatherhood over their careers?

Oct 13, 2011

The classic figure of a distant, career-focused father who spends lots of time at the office and who has little time for his kids might be getting outdated, a new study shows.

Educational development stunted by teenage fatherhood

Mar 30, 2011

Public interest in the issue of teenage childbearing has recently increased, largely due to increases in both the teen pregnancy rate and the teen birth rate. A new study from Economic Inquiry examines the negative educat ...

Fatherhood transforms bad behaviour

Apr 29, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Fatherhood can transform anti-social young men into responsible citizens, according to new research commissioned by Victoria's Institute of Policy Studies.

Recommended for you

Students' lunches from home fall short

28 minutes ago

School lunch is a hot topic. Parents, administrators and policymakers are squaring off on federal guidelines requiring schools to serve healthier, more affordable and ecologically sustainable meals. No matter how they pan ...

US judge blocks enforcement of new abortion law

3 hours ago

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Louisiana from enforcing its restrictive new abortion law. But lawyers and advocates appeared to disagree about whether the judge's order affects doctors at all five abortion clinics ...

New toilets for India's poor, crime-hit village

Aug 31, 2014

More than 100 new toilets were unveiled Sunday in a poverty-stricken and scandal-hit village in northern India, where fearful and vulnerable women have long been forced to defecate in the open.

Can YouTube save your life?

Aug 29, 2014

Only a handful of CPR and basic life support (BLS) videos available on YouTube provide instructions which are consistent with recent health guidelines, according to a new study published in Emergency Medicine Australasia, the jo ...

User comments