Are you persistent? Thank your daddy

Persistence that children gained through fathers led to higher engagement in school and lower rates of delinquency, reveals a new study

Father and son walking on the horizonIf you’re persistent and determined to get through difficult times, chances are, you owe to your father’s influence. A new study reveals that fathers have a key influence in developing persistence in adolescent children.

The research, conducted by professors Laura Padilla-Walker and Randal Day from Brigham Young University by following 325 families over several years, found that over time, the persistence that children gained through fathers led to higher engagement in school and lower rates of delinquency.

“In our research we ask ‘Can your child stick with a task? Can they finish a project? Can they make a goal and complete it?'” Day said. “Learning to stick with it sets a foundation for kids to flourish and to cope with the stress and pressures of life.”

The scholars from BYU’s School of Family Life report their findings June 15 in the Journal of Early Adolescence.

“There are relatively few studies that highlight the unique role of fathers,” Padilla-Walker said. “This research also helps to establish that traits such as persistence – which can be taught – are key to a child’s life success.”

Dads ought to “authoritative” parenting – distinct and different from “authoritarian”. Here are the three basic ingredients:

  • Children feel warmth and love from their father
  • Accountability and the reasons behind rules are emphasised
  • Children are granted an appropriate level of autonomy

About 52 percent of the father in the study demonstrated above-average levels of authoritative parenting. Over time, their kids were significantly more likely to develop persistence, which lead to better outcomes in school and lower levels of delinquency.

Though the study examined 11-14 year olds residing in two-parent homes, the authors of study suggest that single parents still may play a role in teaching the benefits of persistence, which is an avenue of future research.

“Fathers should continue to try and be involved in their children’s lives and engage in high quality interactions, even if the quantity of those interactions might be lower than is desirable,” Padilla-Walker said.


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