APA: Father-Son Relationship Tied to Emotional Stability

Good relationship in childhood tied to lower levels of emotional reactivity to adulthood stressors
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Men who remember having a good relationship with their father during childhood are more likely to be emotionally stable when responding to stressful events in their current daily lives, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association, held from Aug. 12 to 15 in San Diego.

Melanie Mallers, Ph.D., of California State University-Fullerton, and colleagues evaluated 912 men and women, aged 25 to 74 years, who retrospectively reported the quality of their childhood relationships with their mother and father. Over an eight-day period, participants completed a short daily telephone interview so the researchers could assess their level of psychological and emotional distress and whether any stressful events had occurred during the day.

The investigators found that better quality of the mother-child relationship was associated with lower levels of daily psychological stress. In addition, the quality of both mother-child and father-child relationships was linked to stressor exposure, with better quality linked to fewer reported daily stressors; however, only father-son relationship quality was associated with lower levels of emotional reactivity to stressors in adulthood, with better quality linked to lower reactivity.

"The role of fathers has changed dramatically from the time the oldest participants were children," Mallers said in a statement. "We do know that fathers have a unique style of interacting with their children, especially their sons."

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