We know that parents have a profound influence on their child’s life, and increasingly, scientific research is connecting the dots between attention or neglect and behavior.
Children who experience the loss of a father or mother early in life are more likely to smoke and drink before they hit their teens, a new study of English families found. This association between parental absence and risky behavior in childhood occurred no matter whether the cause was death, separation or divorce.
In fact, preteens with an absent parent were more than twice as likely to smoke and drink, the researchers discovered. They defined parental absence as the loss of a biological parent before a child reached age 7.
Overall, the researchers examined the records of nearly 11,000 children. Of these thousands of children, more than a quarter had experienced the absence of a biological parent by age 7.