Father Absence And It’s Influence On Child Anxiety

A recent study conducted by the mail online has found that there is a correlation between depression, anxiety in children and absent fathers. The study has shown that girls are more likely to develop depression as a result of having a father who is absent either physically or emotionally. The report found that biological fathers who were absent during the first five years of their childhood had an increased risk of symptoms of anxiety and depression. Surprisingly the risk in developing anxiety in older children was not found.
The investigation was conducted in such a way as to collect information regarding the absence of a biological father and the subsequent anxiety and depression symptoms found in children aged 14. They assessed whether there was a correlation between these factors. During this investigation researchers took into consideration factors that may influence the link, such as family characteristics. This was not an easy study to make as despite taking these variables into account, the reasons why a father may have left can be very complicated. As a result, the study has suggested that there too may be other factors that have influenced the association between absent fathers, anxiety and depression. To conduct the investigation questionnaires were filled out by the children’s mothers, throughout the children’s lives. These questionnaires asked whether the ‘present live-in father-figure is the natural father of the child and, if not, how old the child was when the natural father stopped living with the family.
The information collected was use to divide the children into three groups:
1) A biological father present
2) A biological father being present for the first five years of life.
3) A biological father not present from age 5 to 10
The researchers asked the teenagers to complete a 13-item questionnaire when they were around 14 years of age. This asked the presence of certain symptoms of certain symptoms. The questionnaire is thought to be a reliable and valid measure of depression and anxiety within children. Children scoring 11 or more on the questionnaire were thought to have high levels of depression and anxiety. Around 14,000 of children were surveyed, 11,000 of which had data available on the presence or absence of their biological father. The results of the survey were interesting. Among these children, approximately 6,000 had available data regarding depressive symptoms at age 14. Interestingly it was girls rather than boys who displayed greater levels of anxiety and depression. Girls with absent fathers during early childhood had a 53% greater chance of experiencing high levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms compared with girls with fathers present during this time. Interestingly the research found that boys with absent fathers were no more likely to report high levels of anxiety and depression at age 14, compared to boys whose fathers were present during early childhood
To conclude it can be said from the findings of the research found that there is a link between a father’s absence during the first few years and predominantly girls developing anxiety and depression. Although not a definitive representation of all children the report shows that overall that early childhood family environments may play an important part in the mental health of children. An important point to note is that there may also be biological and psychological mechanisms underpinning this relationship also.