‘Daddy’s girls’ are less likely to be lonely when they go to school, new research suggests.
Daughters who have a close relationship with their fathers are better able to cope with feelings of isolation when they reach primary-school age than little girls who do not have a close bond with their dads, a study found.
Study author Professor Xin Feng, from Ohio State University, said: ‘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.’
‘Daddy’s girls’ are thought to be less at risk of loneliness due to them looking to their fathers for help and protection during challenging times, such as starting school.
Girls who are close to their mothers are no more or less likely to experience loneliness, the research adds.
‘Daddy’s girls’ are less likely to be lonely when they go to school, research suggests (stock)
IS LONELINESS BAD FOR YOU?
Lonely people are twice as likely to die from heart problems, research suggested in July 2018.
A lack of social support may cause people to lead unhealthy lifestyles, as well as making them more vulnerable to stress and less likely to take their medications, a study found.
Although the study did not specify the unhealthy lifestyle habits lonely people may have, these could include a poor diet, inactivity, smoking and drinking excessively.
Study author Anne Vinggaard Christensen, from Copenhagen University, said: ‘Loneliness is more common today than ever before, and more people live alone.
‘Loneliness is a strong predictor of premature death, worse mental health, and lower quality of life in patients with cardiovascular disease, and a much stronger predictor than living alone, in both men and women.’
Approximately 42.6 million adults over 45 in the US report being lonely. One-quarter of the population also lives alone.
In the UK, 3.9 million people say the television is their main source of company.
Results suggest loneliness doubles the risk of women dying from heart problems, while men are nearly twice as likely as likely to pass away due to a lack of social interaction.
Loneliness also increases both men and women’s risk of anxiety and depression by three times and significantly lowers their quality of life.
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed data from 695 families who took part in a nationwide Study of Early Child Care project across the US.
The study included children in the first five years of school who were asked about any feelings of loneliness.
Questionnaires were given to the children’s parents to determine any bonds or conflicts between them and their youngsters.
‘Daddy’s girls’ also do better at school
Results, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, suggest loneliness is lowest in cases where the bond between a father and his daughter are strongest.
Yet these bonds decline over time as young girls start to form friendships with classmates and spend more time outside of their family homes, which also leads to a rise in conflicts.
Lead author Julia Yan said: ‘This is a time when children are becoming more independent, developing relationships with friends and spending more time outside the home.
‘So they become less close with their parents and have more conflict as their need for autonomy increases.’
The result suggest, however, the bond between a daughter and her father never disappears entirely and can remain beneficial, with ‘daddy’s girls’ also doing better at school.
Speaking of why the same results do not occur when girls are close to their mothers, Professor Feng added: ‘In our society, mothers tend to be responsible for everyday care and stability for their children.
‘Fathers have more freedom to interact with their children in different ways, to challenge them and have a wider range of emotional contact. That may be one reason why fathers had more impact on their daughters.’
The results also suggest loneliness among boys is not affected by whether they are close to their parents or not. This is thought to be due to fathers typically being more protective of their daughters, while boys may be expected to fend for themselves.
On the back of these findings, the researchers encourage fathers to take the time to bond with their daughters.
Professor Feng added: ‘Pay attention to their feelings, especially when they are sad or unhappy, and help them cope. Our results suggest it can really help daughters feel less lonely over time.’