How engaged are today’s fathers? Recent data analysis from the Pew Research Center is encouraging … and discouraging.
The study focused on two areas: fathers’ presence and their involvement. While the results are interesting, I’m more concerned about how well you’re connecting with your children.
First, the research: 27% of children are currently living apart from their fathers, and 46% of all fathers have at least one child who doesn’t live with them, and 31% report that all of their children were born out of wedlock.
Obviously, a dad’s family situation plays a huge role in his involvement in his children’s lives. A high percentage of married fathers were found to take an active role in their kids’ day-to-day activities: playing together, eating together, and talking about the day. The following stats are encouraging: Married fathers spent 6.5 hours a week with their children — up from 2.7 hours per week in 1960.
Among dads who don’t live with their kids, 40% stay in touch by phone or email several times a week; almost a third do so only once a month. One in five nonresident fathers visit their children more than once a week. Here’s the discouraging news: 27% have not seen their children in the past year.
Now, dad, please keep in mind that there are always exceptions to the research. Some fathers are highly involved with their children even though they do not live together. We also know that some dads are physically present with their children but are emotionally and relationally distant. In the end, no matter what your situation, your ability to succeed with your kids depends more on your commitment and your desire than your circumstances.
Can your children see your efforts to spend quantity and quality time with them? If not, it’s up to you to make it happen. Your schedule may be hectic, but you can still have a consistent presence in your kids’ lives. You can let them know that you think about them often, and your love for them is as strong as ever.
I know fatherhood can be hard at times, so please stay in the game, keep doing your best and don’t lose heart!
- Schedule — or recommit to — one-on-one “dates” and outings with each of your children.
- See more on the Pew Research Center report. Rate how well you’re doing in the specific fathering actions listed: checking in with your child and talking about his day, eating meals together, helping with homework, etc.
- Ask each of your children, “Am I an involved father?” “How can I be more involved?”
- Write short, affirming notes to each of your children and hide them in places where they’ll find them throughout the week.