Children who have contact with their fathers following a family break-up suffer fewer behavioural problems, academics said today.
Youngsters who have a close relationship with their natural father after their parents split up are likely to be less disorderly, anxious or aggressive.
Researchers discovered that children who had infrequent or no contact at all with their non-resident fathers were more likely to externalise and internalise problems.
The findings were published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.
Prof Dunn said: “There is a practical message here – parents should make a great effort to get on well after they split up.
“They should put their differences behind them for the sake of the children. The more contact there is the better the outcome for the children.”
The mothers were asked to report on children’s behaviour, on whether they were aggressive or delinquent (externalising behaviour) or withdrawn, anxious, or depressed (internalising).
The research comes in the wake of an attack on the Prime Minister with a purple flour bomb by campaign group Fathers 4 Justice.
Prof Dunn said: “This research is the best kind of thing to support the case of some desperate campaigners who want more access to their children.
“Our findings were unequivocal: more frequent and more regular contact was associated with closer more intense relationships with non resident fathers and fewer adjustment problems in children.”
She added: “This underlines the importance of parents developing a good working relationship over children’s issues and of keeping any problems in their own relationships separate from their parenting.”
The research showed there tended to be less contact between children and their fathers if the mothers had been relatively young when pregnant.