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Study shows being a father can help reduce crime and alcohol use

Fathers may have another argument they can use when fighting for child custody. During divorce proceedings, fathers' rights are often at issue when a judge or court is deciding what decisions are in the best interests of the child.

The results of a study recently published in the Journal of Marriage and Family looks at the impact fatherhood can have on a man's behavior. Specifically, researchers looked at how being a parent can predict how a person behaves. The results are interesting.

The study followed 191 males over a period of nearly 20 years, specifically focusing on how behavior changed when they became fathers. This is the first time that research is showing a correlation between fatherhood and predicting good behavior.

Taking into account of a number of additional factors, such as the natural maturity process and criminal backgrounds, researchers tracked each male participant yearly. Results showed decreased rates of:

  • Crime (including arrests and activity)
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Tobacco use
  • Marijuana use

The research results also showed that men who became fathers later in life saw more changes than the fathers who had children when younger. This could be explained by a general maturity only acquired with age. However the study indicates that fatherhood does play a role in decreasing high-risk behavior in men.

In a time when fathers' rights are becoming more of a reality, this could be one more way that fathers can show the importance of maintaining a relationship with their child. It could not only benefit the children, but also the parents.

Source: Time Health: "Fatherhood Helps Men Cut Back on Drinking, Smoking and Crime," Meredith Melnick, Nov. 9, 2011

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