The power (or powerlessness) of parents to shape their children for good or ill continues to preoccupy psychologists and the public alike.
Among evolutionary-minded developmental psychologists, one specific idea is that girls’ later attitudes to relationships is influenced by their fathers’ behaviour.
For instance, US research has found that girls with disengaged, harsh, and often absent fathers are known to start having sex at a younger age, and to have more sexual partners.
For example: might other aspects of the girls’ childhoods be involved; what about genetic effects; and which aspects of poor-quality fathering are the most consequential?.
On average, the older sisters had spent 5.6 years longer living with their fathers than the younger sisters.
For the younger sisters, who had spent significantly less time living with their fathers, the analysis revealed no effect of paternal behaviour on these measures.
The researchers also gathered ratings of maternal warmth, and in contrast to the paternal findings, these did not relate to expectations of male partners, or sexual behaviour. »