British teenagers trust their mothers and friends more than their fathers.
In a new survey of 1,000 16 and 17 year-olds, 44 per cent said their mother was the person they trusted most in the world and 17 per cent said it was a friend. By contrast, only six per cent of participants said they trusted their father above all others. However, fathers did score higher than boyfriends and girlfriends (both at five per cent), sisters (four per cent) and brothers (two per cent).
There was a similar gender gap between parents when the same teenagers were asked who they would go to first when they had a problem. While 30 per cent said they would go to their mother first, only three per cent said they would choose their father.
These disparities did not come as a surprise to many of the 1,000 parents also surveyed by polling organisation ICM. Only six per cent believed teenagers would seek out their father first compared to 40 per cent who expected them to talk to their mother.
Chartered psychologist Dr Lynne Jordan said people “shouldn’t be surprised if the father isn’t first on the list of who children approach [because] in their younger years it is often the mother who is the main attachment”. She claimed the “role of the modern father is very much a work in progress” and that in the span of a single generation there has been “a significant change in the role of fathers”. It may take a few more generations before “those older social norms … burn out” she suggested.
Despite the trust gap between parents, a spokesperson for parenting think tank the Fatherhood Institute claimed progress is being made. Many studies are beginning to show “that the traditional ‘distant father’ is increasingly a thing of the past” he said, adding that this was “having a positive impact on children’s wellbeing and life satisfaction”. When looking at the results of this survey it was “worth stressing that being the first parent that a child confides in is not the same as being the only one”.