Dear fathers, your close bond with your young daughter may help them overcome their loneliness.
According to a new study, girls tended to report less loneliness as they went from first grade to fifth grade. But loneliness declined more quickly among girls who had a closer relationship with their fathers.
"The bond between fathers and daughters is very important. We found that closeness between fathers and daughters tends to protect daughters and help them transition out of loneliness faster," said co-author Xin Feng, Associate Professor at The Ohio State University.
For the study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, the research team studied 695 families who participated in the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development.
Mothers and fathers rated their relationships (both closeness and conflict) with their child when the child was in grades one, three, four and five. In grades one, three and five the children rated their levels of loneliness.
The results showed that levels of closeness tended to decline over this time period, while conflict increased. That's not surprising, said lead author Julia Yan from the varsity.
"This is a time when children are becoming more independent, developing relationships with friends and spending more time outside the home," Yan said.
"So they become less close with their parents and have more conflict as their need for autonomy increases," Yan added.
Loneliness also tended to decrease as the kids developed relationships with their peers and felt more comfortable with their social skills.
But the study showed that kids didn't shed their loneliness at the same rate. Daughters did better when they had closer relationships with their fathers.
Mothers' relationships didn't have an effect in this study, but that doesn't mean they aren't important, the researcher said.
The results affirm that fathers should nurture their relationships with their children, particularly their daughters, the researchers noted.