One researcher who is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Virginia, Bradford Wilcox, has examined the data to inquire into paternal involvement and its impact up on college graduation. Wilcox initially found that 18% of teenagers who participated in the 1994-1995 survey responded that their fathers were not involved in their lives at all. For the remaining 82%, Wilcox implemented a paternal involvement scale--focusing upon activities such as playing sports with children, or helping them with their homework, or discussing personal problems with them--to rank the students as having fathers who are "somewhat involved," "involved," or "highly involved."
What Wilcox discovered:
- Teenagers with involved fathers were 98% more likely to graduate from college than teens who reported that their fathers were not involved. Those with very involved fathers were 105% more likely to graduate from college.
- Father involvement mattered most significantly for young adults from moderately and highly educated households.
- Students whose parents were married were more likely to report their fathers as being "involved" or "highly involved." This was the case regardless of the educational attainment of the students' parents.
Okay, so paternal involvement is extremely important for young adults. But, why does it correlate so highly with earning a college degree?
Wilcox suggests four reasons:
- Involved fathers may provide their children with homework help or other knowledge that helps them become academically successful.
- Involved fathers may help children stay on the right track and steer away from risky behaviors that could prevent them from completing college.
- Involved fathers may also help to create an authoritative family environment conducive to learning.
- Involved fathers may be more likely to support their children financially.
Wilcox's findings raise an important question: Is it possible that involved fathers could be the remedy for much of what ails many young adults living in the nation's inner cities?
Let the discussion begin...
To read Bradford Wilcox's study, click on the following link:
"Dad and the Diploma: The Difference Fathers Make for College Graduation."