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Fathers Influence Children's Personality More Than Mothers Do

Update Date: Jun 13, 2012 09:02 PM EDT

Father's love is as important for a child as is mother's love, a new study claims.

"In our half-century of international research, we've not found any other class of experience that has as strong and consistent effect on personality and personality development as does the experience of rejection, especially by parents in childhood," co-author Ronald Rohner of the University of Connecticut said in a statement.

According to Rohner, both parents influence a child's personality and hence play an important part in a child's development. He said that children and young adults are likely to be more attentive towards the parent whom they perceive as having higher prestige or interpersonal power. Hence, if a father has higher prestige in the household, the children are more likely to get influenced by him than the mother.

For the study, in which researchers were trying to understand the effect of parental rejection and acceptance in a child's personality development, they analyzed 36 studies from around the world, which included more than 10,000 participants.

Researchers found that children, who have been rejected by their parents, grow up to be anxious, aggressive and insecure individuals. Also, it seems these children have problems developing trusting and secure relationships as adults as a result of the lingering pain of parental rejection.

"Children and adults everywhere - regardless of differences in race, culture, and gender - tend to respond in exactly the same way when they perceived themselves to be rejected by their caregivers and other attachment figures," Rohner said.

According to researchers, there is growing evidence in neuroscience that the pain of rejection activates certain parts of the brain and that the pain lives on. Unlike physical pain, the agony can be re-experienced for years by merely thinking about the incident that caused us pain.

Rohner also added that the stereotypical "mother blaming" should be stopped by schools and in clinical settings. More emphasis could be put on the influence of fathers as well.

"The great emphasis on mothers and mothering in America has led to an inappropriate tendency to blame mothers for children's behavior problems and maladjustment when, in fact, fathers are often more implicated than mothers in the development of problems," Rohner said.

The findings are published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review.

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