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Study Shows More Than Half Of Fathers Criticized For Parenting Styles

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A new survey found that more than half of fathers believe they are judged harshly as parents. Overall, 52% reported receiving negative feedback about their parenting style.

The survey was published by the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. 713 men of children up through age 13 were asked to answer questions about how criticism impacts their parenting choices.

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According to GMA, the lead researcher on the survey, Sarah Clark, a health and behaviour specialist, and faculty member at the University Of Michigan School Of Medicine told ABC News:

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"We've previously had a similar survey about mom-shaming, so we wanted to provide a balance with men."

67% of fathers received criticism about discipline, 43% about diet and nutrition, 32% about paying too little attention to their children and 32% for being too rough. Clark said discipline is a common topic of disagreement between mothers and fathers, and concerns regarding discipline are most likely secondary to different parenting styles. She added, however, that having different parenting styles within a family doesn't always mean that the father is wrong.

Clark adds that fathers should try to establish common ground with their co-parent and work together as a team. The survey also indicates that 1 in 5 men are less motivated to remain involved with parenting duties when they receive harsh criticism. In addition, 40% of the criticism fathers receive is from their co-parent, with 25% from a grandparent.

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According to Clark, criticism from someone who really knows you may be more difficult to accept. Also, when a father received regular criticism from his spouse, he was nine times more likely to want to be less involved: "People close to you often understand you the best, and when they relay negative feedback, if often pushes fathers away. Their confidence in parenting is lost and they often are less involved because they may feel like they are not a good enough parent."

While the survey found that 90% of fathers are confident as parents, many felt that adults in positions of power didn't respect their parental role -- 11% have felt that a teacher assumed they were not knowledgeable about their child's needs or behaviour, and 12% have felt that a doctor or nurse assumed they were not knowledgeable about their child's health. Nearly one-quarter of fathers have felt excluded from communication about their child's activities.

The Michigan survey did not take into account the structure of a family, and answers from fathers may vary depending if they are a single parent, or part of a blended or traditional family. One of the more positive results from the poll is that more than half of fathers indicated that they are receptive to parenting feedback, and as a result they often turn to additional resources to improve their parenting.

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