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Happiness on Job Linked to Good Fathering Ability

January 8, 1988

NEW YORK (AP) _ Men with involving and satisfying jobs do better on key measures of skill in rearing 5-year-olds, but tend to have less time to spend with children, a new study suggests.

It also found that the more a man had valued his solitary activities and relationships with others during the pregnancy, the better he encouraged those tendencies in his child five years later.

The study of 23 sets of parents and their 5-year-old firstborns appears in the January issue of the journal Developmental Psychology.

Eleven of the children were girls. The parents were middle class to upper- middle class and generally coping well with parenthood.

Husbands said they wanted to share child care equally with their wives, said study co-author Frances Grossman of Boston University.

Fathers who ranked themselves higher on job satisfaction and involvement tended to show significantly more support for the child’s autonomy, which is enjoyment of acting alone, and for affiliation, which is enjoyment of relationships with others, researchers reported.

That support was measured by trained observers who watched the fathers and children interact.

Grossman, a psychology professor, said Thursday in a telephone interview that happiness with the job may make the father feel better about himself, helping his relations with the child, and may also simply reflect better overall psychological health.

But ″the men in our sample who were most involved and most liking their jobs were in jobs that were very demanding, and had very little time to spend with their 5-year-old,″ she said.

Grossman, a psychology professor, said her work treating families and children suggests the lack of time with the child might become a problem. Children with little access to their fathers can become distressed, she said.

She reported the work with William Pollack of McLean Hospital and Ellen Golding of Charles River Hospital, both in Boston.

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