Showing posts with label child self-esteem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label child self-esteem. Show all posts

Sunday, June 18, 2023

What do fathers contribute to father-son relationships?


The Importance of Warm and Involved Dads

to Boys' Abilities and Behavior

As a clinician who evaluated and treated children and adolescents, parent-child relationships were often crucial to successful outcomes. Many of the children I saw in therapy were brought in by their mothers because of concerns about behavioral control, learning, or both.

Claire Baker’s 2017 article provides a nice summary of studies in her literature review as well as a look at her study focused on father-son relationships.

What we know

As psychologists, we know the generally accepted truism that fathers are important to the development of children.

In fact, those youngsters who have involved dads are stronger than others in both learning and behavioral control.

Hugs are great. Children with warm dads were better at reading and math in Elementary and Middle school.

In studies of teens, warm and supportive father-son relationships are linked to higher positive self-esteem, lower depression and anxiety, and less disruptive or delinquent behavior.

What Claire Baker did

Baker looked at data from 10,700 children born in 2001 in the US. The data covered the time from birth to kindergarten.

She looked at early skill development:

1 academic skills such as vocabulary development and number skills

2. social and emotional skills such as attention and parent-child engagement

She also assessed fathers’ warm interactions and type of discipline.

What Claire discovered

A combination of father’s warmth and learning stimulation predicted how well boys scored on measures of reading and math as well as their sons’ social-emotional skills.

There are more findings and complex relationship analyses, which you can read in the journal article listed below.


Claire E. Baker at Applied Developmental Science, Human Development and

Family Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA



Baker, C. E. (2017). Father-son relationships in ethnically diverse families: Links to boys’ cognitive and social emotional development in preschool. Journal of Child and Family Studies26(8), 2335–2345.


Read more about respectful parenting in

Discipline with Respect available on AMAZON and other stores

Geoffrey W. Sutton, PhD is Emeritus Professor of Psychology. He retired from a clinical practice and was credentialed in clinical neuropsychology and psychopharmacology. His website is


See Geoffrey Sutton’s books on   AMAZON       or  GOOGLE STORE

Follow on    FACEBOOK   Geoff W. Sutton    

   TWITTER  @Geoff.W.Sutton    

You can read many published articles at no charge:

  Academia   Geoff W Sutton     ResearchGate   Geoffrey W Sutton 


Dr. Sutton’s posts are for educational purposes only. See a licensed mental health provider for diagnoses, treatment, and consultation.

Monday, January 21, 2019


Robert Horton (2011) wrote about sources of child narcissism and asks a question, “Are parents to blame?”

There is little doubt that narcissism has been a hot topic in psychology and the popular press. People are quick to identify unpopular leaders as narcissists. Indeed, when several narcissistic traits are present, life can be tough for narcissists and those who live or work with them.

Narcissism is a personality trait, which describes a pattern of behavior focused on bolstering feelings of self-worth. High levels of narcissism are recognized by belief statements of superiority and entitlement to special treatment. Anger is a common emotional state in response to challenges to grandiose self-beliefs. Observers see narcissistic behavior patterns such as “showing off” and seeking attention.

The focus of concern with narcissism is when high levels of the trait interfere with the person’s interpersonal and intrapersonal functioning. Common concerns include the narcissist's limited concern for others’ feelings, low interest in others’ concerns and welfare, and excessive manipulation of others for personal gain.

It is important to recognize extremes because average people can show narcissistic behavior patterns under stressful conditions. For example, it is hard to be concerned for others when ill or under a threat. Also, all human beings manipulate others to a certain degree. That is, when humans interact, we influence each other. Most of us naturally act out of self-interest even when we are not fully aware of our actions. But this natural self-interest is not like the extreme seen in narcissists.

Not all aspects of narcissism are maladaptive. For example, some level of high self-esteem can be helpful, especially compared to low self-esteem, which is linked to depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

Genetic studies find a heritability ratio of about .50 to .60 for narcissism. It appears that some 40% of the features of narcissism are linked to environmental factors. Scores on a test of narcissism (NPI: Narcissistic Personality Inventory) have increased among college students in the past three decades.

There are different theories predicting the role of parenting in the development of child narcissism. Some research is available. According to Horton, several studies have found significant associations between parental indulgence and the adaptive and maladaptive subtraits of narcissism.

Here are just a few of the research findings cited by Horton (2011):

  • Permissive parenting links to maladaptive narcissism.
  • Parental overvaluation of their children was linked to adaptive and maladaptive narcissism.
  • Parental warmth links to both adaptive and maladaptive narcissism.
  • Psychological control of children is linked to maladaptive narcissism.

Ad. Various programs promote healthy parenting and discipline. Consider Discipline with Respect available from AMAZON


Horton’s catchy question about blame and parents cannot be answered.

Despite some links between the components of parenting styles and narcissism, we cannot make bold claims about the relationship between parents and the development of child narcissism until more rigorous studies are conducted.

Fortunately, Horton, drawing on Pinker (2002), describes what needs to be done. For example, studies need to be done on twins reared by the same and different parents. We need studies that follow parents and their children through childhood. We also need to study the important direction of any link between parenting and a child’s narcissistic behavior. For example: Do parents change their parenting style to adapt to the behavior of a child?


Narcissism is one of the three personality traits in the Toxic or Dark Triad: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathology measured on The Dirty Dozen Scale.


Read Horton’s 2011 summary for more details.

Horton, R. S. (2011). On environmental sources of child narcissism: Are parents really to blame? In C. T. Barry, P. K. Kerig, K. K. Stellwagen, & T. D. Barry (Eds.), Narcissism and Machiavellianism in youth: Implications for the development of adaptive and maladaptive behavior. (pp. 125–143). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Pinker, S. (2002). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

What do fathers contribute to father-son relationships?

  The Importance of Warm and Involved Dads to Boys' Abilities and Behavior As a clinician who evaluated and treated children and adole...