Paternal Persistence Study

With the world more competitive than ever, we’re always wondering if our kids will be able to take a bump and keep running toward the goal. Turns out that if you want to know how persistent, tenacious and determined a kid will be, you can check out how determined his dad is for a hint.

Researchers from Brigham Young University conducted a several-year survey of 325 (two-parent) families from BYU’s Flourishing Families Project. Adolescents and their parents were questioned during “Time 2, 3 and 4”, which if we extrapolate some math from their own description, would put participants between 11 and 16. “There are relatively few studies that highlight the unique role of fathers,” said lead researcher Laura M. Padilla-Walker. “This research also helps to establish that traits such as persistence – which can be taught – are key to a child’s life success.”

The results? In their words:

Analyses suggested that authoritative fathering at Time 2 (but not mothering) was positively associated with adolescent persistence at Time 3, and adolescent persistence was positively related to school engagement and negatively related to delinquency at Time 4.

The researchers throw around the term “authoritative fathering,” which they define with three “basic ingredients”:

  1. Children feel warmth and love from their father
  2. Accountability and the reasons behind rules are emphasized
  3. Children are granted an appropriate level of autonomy

Roughly 52% of the dads in the survey fit this description, according to Padilla-Walker and company. It’s a trait that the researchers say is “key” to a child’s success. Nothing in the survey suggested that being able to beat Mega Man 2 was a favorable trait to have – which is one of the 8BitDad litmus tests of life success®.

Researchers asked in the survey if kids in the participant families could stick with and finish tasks and projects, as well as set goals and complete them.

This study can be found in The Journal of Early Adolescence.

And, of course, this isn’t to say that kids raised by moms won’t be determined; BYU conducted a survey among 325 families – which isn’t even enough people for a proper #Occupy rally. So if there’s no dad around in yours or your kids’ lives, just keep being awesome. Even the researchers called single-parent households “an avenue of future research” (which it should be with the growing numbers of non-traditional households). Also, the study didn’t address same-sex parents with kids to our knowledge, so there’s that too.

But in the meantime – congrats, dads! Let’s all get hypercompetitive and really show ’em who’s determined! RAWR