We all know that the nature of fatherhood in America has changed over time, and it continues to change. Today, dads are taking a much more active role in childrearing and family life. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen significantly more single fathers and stay-at-home dads than ever before. Nevertheless, it’s increasingly common for kids to grow up with dad living elsewhere.
Those facts come to us courtesy of the Pew Research Center, which recently put together six facts about American fathers that may challenge some stereotypes. That’s important for people dealing with divorce or other family law problems. Let’s take a quick look at their findings:
1. The vast majority of dads see fatherhood as extremely important to their identity. In fact, fathers are statistically just as likely as mothers to say that parenting is central to their identities. Dads were also similar to moms in their agreement with the statement that “parenting is rewarding all the time” (54 percent for dads; 52 percent for moms). Fathers were a little more likely (46 percent) than moms (41 percent) to agree that “parenting is enjoyable all the time.”
2. Most Americans say it’s equally important for babies to bond with dad and mom. Seventy percent of American adults agreed with that statement. Twenty-seven percent still say it’s more important for an infant to bond with its mother.
3. Dads are dramatically less likely to be the sole breadwinner today than in 1970. Back in 1970, 47 percent of families had only one — male — breadwinner. Today, only 27 percent of families do.
4. Fathers are stepping up on housework and child care. In 1965, dads put in about four hours on household chores and about two-and-a-half hours on child care. Today, fathers spend nearly three times that effort on child care and 9 hours a week on housework.
5. Fathers do find work-life balance a challenge. The media often focuses on how hard it is for women to balance motherhood and a career, but we hear about men’s experiences less often. According to Pew, 52 percent of working dads said it was “very or somewhat difficult” to balance work and family life. That’s slightly lower than the 60 percent of working moms who did — but not by much.
6. Despite the changes, 53 percent of Americans still perceive moms as better caregivers. Unfortunately, just over half of Americans said women are better equipped to care for kids even when breastfeeding wasn’t considered. Still, 45 percent said that both genders are equally able to care for children.
See more detailed information about these six facts on the Pew Research Center’s FACTANK website.