Fatherhood: The Evolving Role


Pew Research Center’s recent report entitled “A Tale of Two Fathers” shows that although fathers who live with their children are more involved in their lives than ever before, the share of children (younger than 18) living apart from their fathers has more than doubled over the past half century. In 2010, more than a quarter (27%) reported living apart from their fathers, significantly larger than the 11% living apart from their fathers in 1960. In comparison, the percentage of minors living apart from their mothers increased only slightly.
According to Pew Research Center’s report, the absence of fathers from the home is strongly correlated with race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Whereas 21% of white fathers live apart from their children, the likelihood of living apart from one’s children is more than double for black fathers (44%), according to the report. Socioeconomic status, as measured by educational attainment, was also found to be strongly correlated with fathers’ living arrangements. Whereas nearly 40% of fathers who did not complete high school live apart from their children, only 7% of fathers who are college graduates live apart from their children.
The Pew Research Center conducted a survey of attitudes towards fatherhood, as well. Most Americans (69%) feel that living with a father is integral to a child’s happiness. Interestingly, the share that says the same about having a mother in the home is only slightly higher (74%).
Fathers who do live with their children are playing a more active role in their lives than previously. The Pew Research Center found a substantial increase in the number of hours fathers residing with children spend with their children. In 1965, married fathers residing with their children younger than 18 years spent an average of 2.6 hours per week caring for their children. Time spent caring for children rose gradually for twenty years, reaching an average of three hours per week in 1985. By 2000 this number had more than doubled, with married fathers residing with their children under 18 years spending an average of 6.5 hours per week caring for them. The report finds that, on average, fathers living with their children in 2010 devoted 6.5 hours per week to caring for them.

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