THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- How a man handles everyday
stressors like traffic jams and work deadlines may depend, in part,
on how he felt about his dad while growing up, new research
"The message is that father-son relationships are incredibly powerful. When they're healthy, it's hugely protective for boys," said study lead author Melanie Mallers, an assistant professor at California State University at Fullerton.
In the study, Mallers and colleagues surveyed 912 adult men and
women -- aged 25 to 74 -- by phone about their stress levels over
eight days. They also asked how the participants got along with
their parents as children.
Previous research has shown that lack of affection from mothers
has a "profound impact" on kids, Mallers said. But research into
fathers has been lacking, so the study authors explored their role
They found that people were more likely to report good
relationships with their mothers than with their fathers. Sons were
more likely than daughters to say that they got along with their
"Moms were very important to both men and women -- their sons and daughters -- in terms of general mood," Mallers said. "Both men and women who had poor relationships with their moms in childhood were more likely to be in a bad mood."
But what about dads? The team found that men who reported poorer
relationships with their fathers were 4 percent more likely than
other men to report encountering stress during the day. They were
also more likely, by an undetermined amount, to develop a bad mood
or health problems after encountering daily stress.
The difference may sound small, "but it's enough to really
affect your quality of life," according to Mallers.
The study findings were to be presented Thursday at the annual
convention of the American Psychological Association in San
Men who tended to react negatively to everyday stressors
reported that as children "they had very little warmth from their
father, little support and affection. They weren't physically
present for them and didn't make them feel confident," Mallers
said. "They weren't involved in their lives overall."
She said it seems unlikely that the more stressed-out
participants had poorer relationships with their fathers as
children because their own personalities made it difficult for
bonds to develop.
But she acknowledged that the study doesn't prove
cause-and-effect, and it's possible that another factor could
explain a link between adult responses to stress and father-son
relationships. More research would could shed additional light on
the subject, she said.
The researchers conceded that the study had some limitations.
For one thing, it only included adults raised by a male-female
couple and it relied on individual memories of childhood
experiences, which may have been biased.
Louise Silverstein, a psychology professor at Yeshiva University
in New York City who's familiar with the study results, cautioned
that they shouldn't be "over-interpreted," especially in light of
other research that shows that "boys do not need role models in
order to become healthy men."
For more on
parenting, see the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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