Everyone will be encouraged to know that fathers are more involved now than in the past. Woman and men are sharing the roles of provider and caretaker. This is great news, studies also show that a healthy relationship with dad proves positive outcomes in children.
Loftus, a New York stay-at-home dad, said he feels lucky to be able to be such a hands-on father. “I’m doing the most important job in the world,” he said.
CHICAGO (AP) — The detached dad, turning up his nose at diapering and too busy to bathe, dress and play with his kids, is mostly a myth, a big government survey suggests. Most American fathers say they are heavily involved in hands-on parenting, the researchers found.
The results are encouraging and important “because others have found the more involved dads are, the better the outcomes for their children,” said researcher Jo Jones of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. She co-authored the report released Friday.
More academic success, fewer behavior problems and healthier eating habits are just some of the ways fathers’ involvement has been linked with children’s well-being.
“Times have changed,” said Robert Loftus, 34, of Yonkers, N.Y. He quit a six-figure sales job a year ago to care for his two young children while his wife works full time. “We’re trying to rethink our priorities and family seems to be the No. 1 priority whereas in the past maybe people were more focused on career.”
The results build on volumes of research showing changes in the American family since the baby boom years and before, when women were mostly stay-at-home moms and dads were the major breadwinners. As those roles shifted, so did the view that moms are the only nurturers.
The study involved nearly 4,000 fathers aged 15 to 44 who were interviewed in person between 2006 and 2010. One caveat: They self-reported their involvement, without input from their partners or others. Most men were married or living with a partner.
Key findings among fathers living with children younger than 5:
—9 in 10 bathed, diapered, helped them use the toilet or get dressed at least several times weekly.
—Even higher numbers played with them and ate meals with them that often.
—Almost 2 out of 3 read to them at least several times weekly.
Among dads living with kids aged 5-18:
—More than 9 out of 10 ate meals with them at least several times weekly and talked with them about what happened during the kids’ day that often.
—Almost 2 out of 3 helped with homework several times weekly.
—About half took their kids to or from activities that often.
Overall, almost 90 percent of dads said they thought they were doing at least a good job of fathering.
The researchers noted that during the study years, 45 percent of U.S. men — 28 million — aged 15 to 44 had a biological child. About the same number had a biological, adopted or non-related child living with them or an adopted or biological child living elsewhere.
Survey questions were based on whether dads were living with their biological or unrelated kids, or apart.
Most lived with their kids. Not surprisingly, men who didn’t were less involved with parenting activities. Even so, several times weekly, at least 1 in 5 still managed to help bathe, diaper, dress, eat or play with their kids. Fathers of older children were generally less involved than those with kids younger than 5 but that’s at least partly due to the changing nature of parenting as children mature.
Men with at least some college education were generally more involved with their kids than less educated fathers.
The CDC did a similar survey in 2002 that showed slightly less father involvement. Previous CDC surveys relied only on mothers’ responses about family life so aren’t comparable.
A national parenting survey by University of Maryland researchers found that in 2000, married U.S. fathers spent about two hours weekly interacting with their kids aged 18 and younger, more than double the time spent in 1965.
Men weren’t asked about employment, or whether they were stay-at-home dads, who still are rare though their ranks have increased. Census numbers show almost 190,000 nationwide last year versus 93,000 in 2000. Those numbers only include men whose wives have been employed for at least one year
AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/LindseyTanner
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.\
Fathers of Today Are More Involved Than Ever