A good father child relationship is key, say Catch22
One in four children in Wales have no contact with their biological father, a children's charity suggests.
In a poll of young people from the year 7-11 school age group, 24%, when asked, said they 'don't see' their father.
More than a quarter of 15-year-olds asked said they had tried cannabis, with the figure higher among those who did not feel close to their father.
Catch22, which commissioned the survey, said it underlined the importance of a good father child relationship.
The findings form a preliminary part of a report, Growing up with Dad, based on research carried out by Catch22, a charity that helps young people out of difficult situations.
Full analysis on the research, based on the views of 18,000 young people across Wales, is due to be published in May.
The findings suggested that most children living with their father felt very close to him, and that boys were more likely than girls to feel that way.
Of those young people not currently living with their father, almost half said they still felt very close to him.
A total of 39% of 15-year-olds who said they did not feel close to their father admitted to having tried cannabis, compared to 24% of those who said they had a close father child relationship.
The analysis showed a similar trend with respect to underage drinking and smoking.
Tony Ivens, of Children in Wales (CIW), an umbrella group for young people's organisations, said the research showed for the first time the specific benefits to young people in Wales of having an involved father in their lives.
He said: "Whilst traditional support for parents has focused on mothers, we now know that we must include fathers in the equation if we are to give our young people the best possible start in life.
THE SURVEY'S RESULTS
Children living with their father who feel close to him - 86%
Children not living with their father who still feel close to him - 47%
Boys who feel close to their father - 79%
Girls who feel close to their father - 69%
15-year-olds who have tried cannabis - 28%
15-year-olds close to their father who had tried cannabis - 24%
15-year-olds not close to their father who had tried cannabis - 39%
Source: Growing up with Dad
Mr Ivens, CIW's Fatherhood Development Officer, added: "The fact that nearly a quarter of the children surveyed claimed to have no contact with their biological father is a sad indictment of the way we view the importance of these relationships.
"Our children have a right to a full family life, their well being benefits from it, and many of the outcomes they enjoy in later life depend on it.
"However families in Wales today come in a variety of shapes, sizes and models. This is particularly true in respect of fathers.
"Even when a father is not present on a day to day basis many young people still feel close to them.
"As a society we need to listen to the views of these young people and do more to support these relationships."
Pat Dunmore of Catch22 said the findings showed the value of using an evidence-based approach to the issue.
Ms Dunmore said: "The research indicates that for children growing up in Wales having a positive relationship with your father is just as important as having a positive relationship with your mother.
"We need to level the playing field and include fathers for the sake of all our children."
The statistics were based on 17,933 questionnaires collected from young people in Years 7 to 11 who attended schools in four local authority areas in Wales during the 2004-05 school year.
The sample included 3465 questionnaires completed by 15 year olds.
We asked how important is the role of the father in raising children today? Here are some of your views:
The role of the father is really important as everyone needs a father figure to learn discipline and such
In my opinion the role of the father in raising children today is just as important as the mothers role. They should both play a part in a child's life and give a good example of how a family should be.
The role of a father is very important in raising children. Due to the environment that kids are growing up in, a father figure is needed to keep the kid well balanced. Without both parents a child can get very troubled and grow up with insecurities. The father makes sure the child grows up in line. He is also there to support any decision that is made by the mother.
I think the father does quite a bit today in raising children, compared to years ago. Like years ago you wouldn't find a dad cooking or ironing - that was left to the mother but today you find dads cooking and ironing quite a lot.
Very important to be a father raising children today
i think the role of the father is very important in raising children. the mother can only pass on so much to the child, the father can pass on the rest, especially if the child is a boy.
Damien, Port Talbot
Its not very important. I haven't had a father since I was 3 years old and I have coped fine. My mother did everything she could and that was enough, but having a father may have made it easier financially but nowadays its not very important.
very important, girls and boys need both a farther and mother figure in their lives. childeren need a balance of both role models. farther figures are just as important as mother figures.
From my perspective, I think the role of the father in raising children today, it's just as important as the mother's role. The children need another parental figure to look up to apart from the mother. Children need a fatheror someone who is deemed as a father figure, someone that children can look up to, as some sort of inspiration.
In my opinion the role of the father is very important in raising children today. Many children will look up to their fathers as role model therefore it is important for the father to be there and be a very good figure to the child so he may have a good uprising.
I think that the role of a father in raising a child is as, if not more important today as it has ever been. I think this because now that more mothers have jobs, the job of rasing the child is now down to the father as much as the mother. It is also important for the father to be a good role model to sons and daughters as well as setting a standard for a future partner of the daughter.
Richard, Neath Abbey