Boys with absent fathers more likely to become young dads

September 8, 2011 By Alexandra Back, The Conversation
Boys' voices break later if their fathers are absent during adolescence, according to new research. Credit: Flickr/Tom A

Boys who grow up without a dad around are more likely to reach puberty later, but father their own children earlier, according to a new study.

Researchers from the London School of Economics used data from the UK National Study to look at the between the presence of and the time their sons' voices broke.

The study found that if the father left during their son’s adolescence their voice broke later, when compared to boys with present fathers.

“It’s particularly surprising to see that a boy’s can be delayed as a result of events that happen in adolescence,” said Paula Shephard, a researcher from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“We’ve previously assumed that these things are ‘locked-in’ in early childhood.”

According to the study, with absent fathers were less likely to be married by the age of 23 and more likely to have children by that age.

“These findings suggest that father absence exerts an influence on male reproductive decisions, even after controlling for other indicators of early life adversity,” the authors wrote.

Dr. Richard Fletcher, leader of the Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle, said that the rising proportion of single mothers has usually been the focus of investigations on child development but this research offered a new perspective.

“They’re identifying an alternative explanation: that there’s something about having a father in the family that influences children’s development,” said Dr. Fletcher, who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Fletcher said the research has implications for governments when designing family policies.

“The state’s responsibility might be seen as directing more resources to the separated mother instead of supporting families to stay together,” he said.

“But this research suggests there might be a benefit to keeping the father involved that we shouldn’t lose sight of.”

The paper was published in Biology Letters on Wednesday.


This story is published courtesy of the The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).

Explore further: Fathers benefit from seeking help as parents

Related Stories

Fathers benefit from seeking help as parents

June 15, 2011
Men are sometimes criticized for being unwilling to ask for directions when they travel, but they can benefit from looking for help as they begin their journeys as fathers, according to a researcher on fatherhood at the University ...

'Motherese' important for children's language development

May 6, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Talking to children has always been fundamental to language development, but new research reveals that the way we talk to children is key to building their ability to understand and create sentences of ...

Recommended for you

Short-course treatment for combat-related PTSD offers expedited path to recovery

January 23, 2018
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be debilitating and standard treatment can take months, often leaving those affected unable to work or care for their families. But, a new study demonstrated that many ...

Priming can negate stressful aspects of negative sporting environments, study finds

January 23, 2018
The scene is ubiquitous in sports: A coach yells at players, creating an environment where winning is the sole focus and mistakes are punished. New research from the University of Kansas shows that when participants find ...

Social and emotional skills linked to better student learning

January 23, 2018
Students with well-developed and adaptive social and emotional behaviours are most likely to excel in school, according to UNSW researchers in educational psychology.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.