A new study published in the Journal of Early Adolescence found that dads are in a unique position to instill persistence and hope in their children, particularly in the pre-teen and teen years.
Researchers from Brigham Young University analyzed 325 families over a four-year period, when fathers responded to questionnaires regarding their parenting style, and children ages 11 to 14 responded to questions about school performance and attaining goals. Fathers who practiced authoritative parenting, defined as providing feelings of love, granting autonomy and emphasizing accountability to a child, were more likely to have kids who developed the art of persistence, which led to better outcomes in school and lower instances of misbehavior.
Dads who ruled with an iron fist and an authoritarian style (harsher and more punishment-based parenting) had less persistent children.
"Fathers have a direct impact on how children perceive persistence and hope, and how they implement that into their lives," said Randall Day, professor in the School of Family Life at Brigham Young University and co-author of the study.
Day calls these types of dads "heartbeat fathers" because of their consistent presence in the ordinary day-to-day interactions with their kids.
Researchers said the study joins a growing body of research that suggests fathers are uniquely important to children's self-regulation and self-esteem.