As parents, our job is to make sure our kids are healthy, cared for, and supported. This doesn’t just mean their physical needs, either. Parents are responsible for shaping the development and growth of our kids, from the time they’re babies until they leave the nest. A new study is shedding some light on just how important parents are to their children’s development, particularly when it comes to social development. The study shows that fathers rejecting kids can negatively impact their social development and ability to form friendships. Bad parenting impacts so many aspects of children’s lives.

The study looked at the impact of parental rejection on social development.

fathers rejecting kids

Researchers found that fathers rejecting kids led to more social anxiety and problems forming friendships in those kids, compared to kids who didn’t experience that kind of parental rejection.

The study was conducted at the University of Pennsylvania and published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Researchers found that kids who experienced parental rejection at the hands of their fathers suffered more social anxiety. They also had a harder time forming friendships with their peers. Study conductor Hio Wa “Grace” Mak told Science Daily, “We found that father rejection predicted increases in adolescents’ social anxiety, even when we controlled for social anxiety at an earlier time. In turn, this predicted increases in loneliness later on. This suggests that fathers’ rejecting attitudes toward their adolescent children may make them more nervous about approaching social situations, which in turn is related to more social isolation and feelings of loneliness.”

Scientists looked at data from 687 two-parent families with kids in middle school. They monitored the families at three different times, when the kids were in 6th, 7th, and 8th grade.

They found that kids who experienced parental rejection from both parents were lonelier. But interestingly, only the father’s rejection resulted in social anxiety. Mak says, “we found that father rejection, but not mother rejection, predicted changes in social anxiety. Fathers aren’t usually included in family research, so it’s important to know more about fathers and how they influence adolescent friendship and loneliness.”

Researchers hypothesize that rejection from fathers leads kids to be afraid of peer rejection.

That fear, along with general social anxiety, can make forming friendships difficult. Having supportive, involved parents is to incredibly important for kids. Especially as they age and begin to navigate their own social landscapes.

(Image: iStock/  KatarzynaBialasiewicz)