Girls whose fathers leave before their fifth birthday are much more likely to have mental health problems as teenagers, a study has found.
Twenty three per cent of girls whose fathers were absent during their early childhood reported sadness and fatigue as teenagers, researchers from the University of Bristol discovered – almost twice as many as girls whose parents leave later.
By contrast, less than ten per cent of boys went on to suffer from teenage depression if their fathers left before they turned five, although this rate increased to 17 per cent if the fathers left between the ages of five and ten. The latter figure was ten per cent more than for boys whose parents were still together.
The researchers suggest that younger children have learnt fewer coping mechanisms than older ones and also have more limited social support.
Lead author Iryna Culpin concluded:
“These findings indicate a need to include fathers in research related to child and adolescent mental health issues.”
“We cannot place judgment or blame on anyone but we are suggesting these girls might be more at risk later on in life… We cannot accord for all the experiences children go through, but from our studies girls are more at risk if their fathers leave early on in their childhood.”
Photo by Peter Werkman (www.peterwerkman.nl)