POP’S CULTURE:A National Survey of Dads’Attitudes on FatheringTABLE OFCONTENTS Executive S...
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A telephone survey of 701 American 4 A...
income households. In contrast, African American 10 Respondents who did not live with their “focal child...
INTRODUCTION One of the more important developments in American society in recent ...
A PROFILE OF THE SURVEYRESPONDENTSThe 701 respondents to the survey varied in age from 18 (theminimum age for qualifying f...
THEFATHERHOOD AND THEMSELVESATTITUDESABOUT RESPONDENTS’ AS FATHERS The respondents to the survey...
TABLE 1. Percentage of Respondents Who Agreed (“Strongly” or “Somewhat”) wit...
THE REPLACEABILITY OF Graduate degree ...
36.2 Not married to childʼs mother 18.8 ...
HOW MARRIAGE Not at all religious ...
question relate less strongly to the age of the respondents 50 and older than ...
Bachelorʼs degree 2.7 ...
Not at all religious 37.1 50 and older ...
62.6 ...
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
Pops culture fatherattitude
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Pops culture fatherattitude

Published on: Mar 4, 2016
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  • 1. POP’S CULTURE:A National Survey of Dads’Attitudes on FatheringTABLE OFCONTENTS Executive Summary 2 Introduction 4 A Profile Of The Survey Respondents The Respondents’ Attitudes About Fatherhood and Themselves as Fathers 6 The Replacability of Fathers How Marriage Affects Fathering Attitudinal Support for Government Help to Fathers Belief in a Father-Absence Crisis Other Attitudes and Perceptions Respondents’ Perceptions Of Obstacles To Good Fathering 16 The Respondents’ Performance As Fathers 20 Sources To Aid Fathering 24 Conclusions 26 Endnotes 28 Technical Appendix 29© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey
  • 2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A telephone survey of 701 American 4 A summary index of the conditions that the 4. men selected to be representative of respondents perceived to be obstacles to good American fathers age 18 and older with fathering revealed substantial differences among the different kinds of fathers. Among at least one biological or adopted child (not those who perceived the greatest obstacles a stepchild) under the age of 18 yielded the were those not married to the mothers of following findings: their “focal child” (the child selected for special attention by the survey), those who“Ninety-nine 1 Ninety-one percent of the respondents 1. did not live with that child, those who had agreed that there is a father-absence crisis one or more stepchildren, and older fatherspercent of in the country, but strong agreement in low-income households. varied considerably among the differentthe fathers kinds of respondents, being relatively lowagreed that among the very young, the less religious, 5 When the respondents were asked which of 5. eight possible sources of help they had drawn and those in high-income households.being a father upon to be a better father, “wife, partner, orwas a very 2 Eighty-one percent of the surveyed 2. child’s mother” was most frequently chosen (by 89 percent of the respondents), followedimportant fathers agreed that men generally perform by “other fathers or men,” their own mother, better as fathers if they are married topart of who the mothers of their children. Fifty- and then their own father. About half had received help from a place of worship, andthey are...” seven percent “strongly agreed” and only only 29 percent had sought help from a eight percent “strongly disagreed.” The professional person. respondents less inclined to support the importance of marriage to good fathering include those low in religiosity, 6 Among the respondents as a whole, “work 6. the youngest respondents, and those not responsibilities” was most frequently given married to the mothers of their child or as an obstacle to being a good father, with children. The relatively low support for 47 percent saying that it was “a great deal” marriage among the youngest respondents or “somewhat” of an obstacle. “The media/ is consistent with results from other popular culture” and “financial problems” surveys that suggest a decline in pro- ranked next. The fathers not married to marriage attitudes. the mother of the “focal child” reported resistance and lack of cooperation from that mother to be the most important obstacle to 3 Only slightly more than half of the fathers 3. their being good fathers, followed by “work agreed, and less than a fourth “strongly responsibilities,” “financial problems,” and agreed,” that they felt adequately prepared “treatment of fathers by the courts.” for fatherhood when they first became fathers. Although 78 percent agreed that they now have the necessary skills and 7 Sixty-seven percent of the respondents agreed 7. knowledge to be good fathers, only a third that the government should do more to help “strongly agreed.” and support fathers, but strong agreement that more government assistance is needed was relatively infrequent among “very religious” respondents and those in higher Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
  • 3. income households. In contrast, African American 10 Respondents who did not live with their “focal child” 10. fathers were very favorable toward government were much more likely than other fathers to say that assistance. they did not spend enough time with that child and that they did not feel very close to that child. More 8 A small majority of the respondents agreed with 8. surprising, respondents who had a stepchild or statements that fathers are replaceable by mothers (53 stepchildren under age 18 reported feeling distinctly percent) and by other men (57 percent), although very less close to their own focal child than did other fathers few “strongly agreed” with the statements. Those most regardless of whether or not they lived with their focal likely to agree that fathers child. How close the respondents are replaceable were the felt to their focal child varied respondents with little inversely with the age of that child, education, but those with that is, on average they felt closest graduate degrees also were to infants and very young children relatively likely to agree and least close to teenagers. that other persons can be adequate substitutes for 11 Ninety-nine percent of the fathers. The “very religious” fathers agreed that being a fathers were less likely father was a very important than the less religious ones part of who they are, and 94 to think that fathers are percent “strongly agreed.” At a replaceable. minimum, these findings indicate a strong social norm that being a 9 Fathers of infants and 9. father should be a crucial aspect of very young children did a father’s identity. not differ much from one another in their reported activities with their offspring, but fathers of older children and adolescents reported considerably more activities with their “focal child” if they lived with that child, were well-educated, and did not have a stepchild or stepchildren.© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey
  • 4. INTRODUCTION One of the more important developments in American society in recent years has been the growth of awareness of the importance of responsible fatherhood to the well-being and proper development of children and to the health of the society as a whole. It would be an exaggeration to claim that a consensus has emerged on this issue–there remains a“Our primary few “family diversity” advocates who deny the importance of fathers and what they do forpurpose in children. But those who deny the importance ofconducting fatherhood seem to be increasingly irrelevant in the public discourse.the survey Important unanswered questions remain,was to gauge however, about the bases of responsiblethe fathering- fatherhood and how those who would promote it can best attain that goal. The telephonerelated survey that yielded the findings reported hereattitudes, was conducted to help answer those questions. We, the authors of this report, designed theperceptions, survey in collaboration with advisors at Nationaland behaviors Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), the organization at the forefront of efforts to promote responsible...” fatherhood, in order to provide information useful to NFI, its partners, and the many individuals and organizations that serve fathers and families. Our primary purpose in conducting the survey was to gauge the fathering-related More specifically, our purpose was to provide attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors of fathers insight into why some fathers perform their age 18 and older in the United States in a sample fatherhood role more effectively than others, as representative of that population as can be to assess what the fathers perceived to be major attained for a telephone survey. Many of the obstacles to good fathering, and to provide questions pertain to how the respondents viewed promoters of responsible fatherhood with fatherhood in general, but many others relate information about how they can more effectively to the respondents’ relationship to one of their accomplish their task. children under age 18. Every father in the sample had at least one child (not a stepchild) under age 18, and if the respondent had only one child in that age range, that child was designated the “focal child,” about which many questions were asked. If the respondent had more than one child under age 18, the focal child was the one with the most recent birthday. Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
  • 5. A PROFILE OF THE SURVEYRESPONDENTSThe 701 respondents to the survey varied in age from 18 (theminimum age for qualifying for inclusion in the sample) to68, the median age being 41. Thirteen percent of the fatherswere under age 30, 12 percent were age 50 or older, and threequarters were in the age range of 30 through 49. Thirty-fivepercent had only one child under age 18, while four percenthad five or more, and 12 percent had at least one offspringage 18 or older. Ten percent had at least one stepchild underage 18, and nine percent lived with at least one pre-adultstepchild. The marital status distribution is 85 percentmarried (with 78 percent married to the mother of thefocal child selected for attention in this study), nine percentdivorced, fewer than one percent widowed, and six percentnever-married. Of those who were married, 22 (about threepercent of the total sample) were not living with their wives.Six percent of all respondents were living with women towhom they were not married, and four percent had romanticrelationships with women with whom they did not live. Threepercent lived with the focal child’s mother but were notmarried to her, and 90 percent of the respondents lived withtheir focal child.Seventy-seven percent of the sampled fathers lived withtheir biological or adoptive father when they were age 16, 11percent lived with their mother only, and seven percent livedwith their mother and a stepfather. The rest had other livingarrangements, such as living with grandparents.Twenty-seven percent of the sampled fathers said that theywere “very religious,” and ten percent said that they were “notat all religious.” The religious preferences of the respondentsinclude 21 percent Catholic, 42 percent Protestant orChristian (unspecified denomination or type), four percentMormon, and 20 percent with no religious preference.© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey
  • 6. THEFATHERHOOD AND THEMSELVESATTITUDESABOUT RESPONDENTS’ AS FATHERS The respondents to the survey were asked 14 questions concerning their attitudes about fatherhood in general, about their views of themselves as fathers, and about their own fathers. These questions were in the form of statements about which the respondents could choose “strongly agree,” “somewhat agree,” “somewhat disagree,” or “strongly disagree.” The“...responses combined “strongly agree” and “somewhat agree” percentage for each statement is given in Tabledo indicate 1, in which the statements are divided into thosethat there is a about fatherhood in general and those about the respondents’ or their fathers’ performance,strong norm qualifications, and feelings as fathers.in American A majority of the respondents agreed with eachsociety that of the statements, but the “agree” percentages vary from 99 percent in the case of the statementbeing a father that being a father is an important aspect ofshould be an the respondent’s identity to 53 percent for the statement that mothers can adequately substituteimportant for fathers.part of a The question about fatherhood being anfather’s sense important part of the respondent’s identity isof who he the kind that is likely to elicit “socially desirable” responses, that is, those that reflect well on theis...” respondent and that are not necessarily honest. It is perhaps not surprising that in a sample of percent agreed that there is a “father-absence” 701 men who acknowledged that they are fathers, crisis in the country, only 62 percent “strongly only five failed to agree that being a father is agreed.” Some, but not all, of the questions elicited an important part of who they are and only 45 responses that varied considerably by such variables failed to “strongly agree.” This is an example of a as the age, education, and religiosity of the fathers. survey question that proves not to be very useful because there is very little variation in responses Space limitations preclude discussion of all of these to it. However, the responses do indicate that variations, but a few have special policy relevance or there is a strong norm in American society that should be of special interest to persons who would being a father should be an important part of a understand the bases of responsible fatherhood in father’s sense of who he is. the United States. All of the other questions elicited much more varied responses. For instance, although 92 percent of the respondents agreed that they received a lot of respect for being fathers, only 52 percent “strongly agreed,” and although 91 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
  • 7. TABLE 1. Percentage of Respondents Who Agreed (“Strongly” or “Somewhat”) with Selected Statements (“Not sure” and similar responses are excluded from the base for the percentages. The base varies from 684 to 701 cases for the different percentages.) Attitudes and Perceptions About Fathering in General There is a “father-absence” crisis in the United States today. 91% All else being equal, men perform best as fathers if they are married to the mothers of their children. 81 The government should do more to help and support fathers. 67 The media (e.g., commercials and TV shows) tend to portray fathers in a negative light. 65 If a child does not have an involved father, a male role model, such as a teacher or a family friend, can be an adequate substitute for a father. 57 If a child does not have an involved father, a mother can be just as effective preparing a child to be a well-adjusted and productive adult. 53 Personally Relevant Attitudes and Perceptions Being a father is a very important part of who you are. 99% You get a lot of respect for being a father. 92 You now feel that you have all of the necessary knowledge and skills to be a good father. 78 As a father, you feel a responsibility to help other fathers improve their fathering skills. 77 In general, you are a better father than your own father was to you. 76 You had an involved, responsible father while you were growing up. 74 You are inspired to be a better dad when you see and/or hear advertisements and media featuring good fathers. 64 When you first became a father, you felt adequately prepared for fatherhood. 54© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey
  • 8. THE REPLACEABILITY OF Graduate degree 3 FATHERS Arguably the most important debate about Bachelorʼs degree 2.7 fatherhood in the United States today is about the necessity and irreplaceability of fathers. Some college 2.9 One point of view is that good biological or adoptive fathers perform functions that cannot HS completion“Those who 3.2 be adequately performed by anyone else, evenbelieve most though such others as male teachers and family friends can be partial substitutes for good fathers. No HS completion 3.5strongly in the The opposing view is that a variety of familyimportance forms can adequately serve children and that no one kind of family structure should be favored 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 FIof fathers will over others or presented as an ideal. FIGURE 1. Mean Replaceability of Fathers Index, by Educationbe concerned Those who believe most strongly in theto learn that importance of fathers will be concerned to Graduate degree learn thatdegree Graduate a majority (though a small majority) 15.8 Noa majority 3 of the fathers we surveyed seemed to think that(though they are replaceable. Fifty-seven percent of the Bachelorʼs degree 2.7 Bachelorʼs degree 9.7 respondents agreed with the statement “If a Na small child does not have an involved father, a male Some collegemajority) of Some college 15.1 role model, such as a teacher or family2.9 friend, can be an adequate substitute for a father,” Modthe fathers andHS completion agreed that “If a child does not 53 percent 3.2 HS completion 21.8we surveyed have an involved father, a mother can be just as effective in preparing a child to be a well-adjusted No HS completionseemed to No HS completion and productive adult.” However, the “strongly 3.5 31.6think that agree” percentages for both statements are much 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 Mixed/other 0 5 10 15 20 49.3 25 30 35 smaller, 13 and 20 respectively, and are exceededthey are FIGURE 1.“strongly disagree”Fathers Index, by Education by the Mean Replaceability of responses, which are FIGURE 2. Mean Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to FIGreplaceable.” 19 and 23, respectively. Thus, while only about a Father Replaceability Statements, by Education fifth of the fathers strongly believed that fathers Black/African American 65.7 are NOT replaceable, a strong belief that they by recoding the response alternatives so that the ARE replaceable was even rarer. This suggests higher numbers represent belief in replaceability that a large percentage of the fathers who do not and by summing Whitescores from the two relevant the 29.4 now take a strong position about the importance questions. A multivariate statistical analysis, of fathers might be persuaded to do so. the results of which are not presented here, It is important, therefore, to examine how revealed important variation in the index values70 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 attitudes on this issue are distributed among the by education and by religiosity that could not be different kinds of fathers. For this purpose, we explained 9. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses towas FIGURE by variation of other kinds. There Statement constructed a “replaceability of fathers index” no importantGovernment Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Race that More variation by household income, race, or the age of the fathers, and although fathers not 100,000 and more 15.2 Mixed/other 49.3 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org 75,000-99,999 25
  • 9. 36.2 Not married to childʼs mother 18.8 Did not live with child 5.1 Married to childʼs mother 20.8 living with their children were more likely than others to say Lived with child 8.1 Graduate degree 15.8 that they believe in the replaceability of fathers, this difference 3 Not at all religious 3.2 is fully explained by the lower average education of the nonresident fathers.Bachelorʼs degree 2.7 9.7 0 5 10 15 20 250 25 30 35 40 0 2 4 6 8 Not very religious 3.4 The variation in the index values by education is shown in Some college 25. Mean Activities with Child 0-5ents Who Said That They The fathers most likely to believe that fathers are Index, by Whether FIGURE 15.1 FIGURE 26. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, Figure 1. 2.9al Child, by Age of Child or Not Respondant Was Married to Mother of Focal Child Whether or Not Respondant Lived with Focal Chi replaceable were those with the least education, and the mean Moderately religious 3.1 Mo 3.2 HS completion index scores decrease steadily with increases in education 21.8 up through a bachelor’s degree. However, the fathers with graduate degrees were HS completion than those with only 31.6 No more likely Very religious 2.5 3.5 bachelors’ degrees to choose the “replaceability” responses, and this difference is statistically significant (which means5 2 2.5 3 it 3.5unlikely to have occurred 0 chance). 15 20 25 30 35 that is by 5 10 The relative 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 length of the bars FIGURE 2. Meanmight lead “Strongly believe that to in Figure 1 Percentage of one to Agree” Responses FIGURE 3. Mean Replaceability of Fathers Index, by Religiosityrs Index, by Education the differences among the educational levels are not very Father Replaceability Statements, by Education important, but the data in Figure 2 on the percentages of respondents who “strongly agreed” with the replaceability statements more accurately reveal the importance of the differences. Those respondents with the least education were about three times as likely as those with a bachelor’s degree Not at all religious 21.3aduate degree “strongly agree” that fathers are replaceable—clearly an to 8.2 important difference. Not very religious 22.8helorʼs degree 7.8 Belief in the replaceability of fathers by respondents at the lower educational levels may result largely from lack of Some college exposure to information7.8 about the importance of fathers, but Moderately religious 16.9 we speculate that the relatively high score for the fathers withHS completion most education reflects a prevalence of an ideological the 7.4 commitment to “family diversity” at that educational level. Very religious 10 Not at all religious 100,000 and more 15.2 4 49.3 If so, the attitudes of the low-education fathers are likely toHS completion 6.4 be amenable to change through educational efforts while 0 5 10 15 20 25 75,000-99,999 those of the highly educated fathers may be more resistant to 25 Not very religious 0 2 4 6 8 10 change. 65.7 50,000-74,999 33.1 FIGURE 4. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to FatherGURE 27. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, by“very religious” respondents were As would be expected, the Education Replaceability Statements, by Religiosity religious Moderately less likely to consider fathers replaceable than were the less 35,000-49,999 religious ones (Figure 3), but the differences among those 45.5 said that they were “very religious.” “Very religious” persons who said that they were “moderately religious,” “not very9.4 Very religious are clearly a major source of support for the view that fathers religious,” and “not at all religious” are not 35,000 enough to Under large 56.9 are irreplaceable, but they constitute only 27 percent of the be important (and are not statistically significant). Again, fathers we surveyed. the percentages of respondents who said that they 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 “strongly 0 10 20 30 30 40 50 60 70 agreed” give a better indication of the importance of the FIGURE 11. Percentage of “Strongly Aee” Responses to Statement differences (see Figure 4), and those percentages for the leastAgree” Responses to Statement that FIGURE 10. Percentage of “Strongly Statement that there is a Father-Absencathers Is Needed, by Race religious categories are about twiceMore Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Household Income those for respondents who © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey
  • 10. HOW MARRIAGE Not at all religious Not at all religious 37.1 AFFECTS FATHERING 3.2 Another important debate is about the extent to Not very religious marriages to the mothers3.4 their Not very religious 43.5 which men’s of children affect their performance as fathers. There is a great deal of evidence that these Moderately religious 3.1 Moderately religious 55.2 marriages promote effective fathering2 (including 21.8 “The most evidence from our survey reported below), but an striking 31.6 opposing point of view is that only the parents’ Very religious cooperation is needed in order 2.5 men to be for Very religious 76 relationship of good fathers. (We assume that almost everyone the responses 20 25 30 35 would agree that0.5 1 cooperation is3more likely 0 such 1.5 2 2.5 if the mother and father are married to one 3.5 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80gree” about to FIGURE 5. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses FIGURE 3. Mean Replaceability of Fathers Index, by However, another and have a good marriage.) Religiosity Responses to Statement about Importance ofy Education marriage and 19 percent of the respondents to our survey disagreed with the statement that “All else Martiage to Fatherhood, by Religiosity fatherhood being equal, men perform best as fathers if they is to whether are married to the mothers of their children,” and only 57 percent strongly agreed with the or not the 3.2 Not at all religious It is important, therefore, to identify statement. 37.1 50 and older 62.6 respondent the kinds of fathers who are least likely to see a strong connection between marriage and good was married 3.4 fathering. Not very religious 43.5 40-49 59.3 to the mother A multivariate analysis, the results of which are of the focal Moderately religious here, revealed three variables to 3.1 not reported 55.2 30-39 57.6 be independently related to the responses to child.” the importance-of-marriage question, namely, Not at all religious 15.2 religiosity, respondent’s age,Not at all 76religious and whether or not 42.6 18-29 41.8 Very religious the respondent was married to the mother of Not very religious 25 the focal child (the respondent’s child under age5 3 3.5 0 10 20 30 40 50Not very religious 60 70 80 18 about which detailed questions were asked 56.5 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 on FIGURE 5. Percentage ofvariables as education, the survey). Such “Strongly Agree” FIGURE 6. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses toModerately religious Statement 33.1 by Religiosity race, and householdabout Importance of bear an Responses to Statement income do notreligious Moderately about Importance of Marriage to Fatherhood, by Respondentʼs Age 59.4 important relationship by Religiosity Martiage to Fatherhood, to the responses when the 45.5 other explanatory variables are statistically held Very religious 0 constant. as for those who said they were not at all religious Very religious 75.5 56.9 The relationship between religiosity and agreeing (see Figure 5). Only eight percent of the very 0 with the importance-of-marriage question is, 10 20 30 40 50 persons, compared with 26 percent of 0 religious 60 70 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 as60 would be expected, quite strong, with the the not-at-all-religious ones, disagreed with the Association (Gam FIGURE 12. FIGURE 11. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to shown graphically).Question with Responses to G percentage of “strongly agree” responses being statement (data not e of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement that Statement that there is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Religiosity twice as great for the very religious respondentsupport of Fathers Is Needed, by Household Income The responses to the importance-of-marriage 50 and old 10 Fathering Attitudes Survey Not at all religious © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative 0.366 www.fatherhood.orgall religious 42.6
  • 11. question relate less strongly to the age of the respondents 50 and older than to religiosity, the main difference being that the62.6 fathers under age 30 considered marriage less important than did the older ones (see Figure 6). This finding is consistent with Not married to childʼs mother 30.1 40-49 59.3 findings from NFI’s National Marriage Survey conducted in 2004, which found the youngest adults to be less pro-marriage than the older ones.3 It is not clear whether the relatively weak 30-39 57.6 support for marriage among the youngest adults will persist M as these people grow older or whether they will become more Married to childʼs mother 64.8 pro-marriage as they reach middle age. 76 18-29 41.8 The most striking relationship of the responses about marriage and fatherhood is to whether or not the respondent 70 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 was married to the mother of the focal child (see Figure 7), 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70” the percentage of “strongly agree” responses Responses to Statement FIGURE 6. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” being more FIGURE 7. “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement about Fof than twice as great for those married Fatherhood, by Respondentʼs about Importance of Marriage toto the mother as for Age Importance of Marriage to Fatherhood, by Whether or Not th those not married to her. This finding is hardly surprising, Respondent Was Married to Mother of Focal Child but the reasons for it are likely to be complex. At least to some extent, a lack of belief in the importance of marriage 62.6 is likely to account for the lack of the men’s marriage to the mothers of their children, and these fathers may have a need Not at all religious 38.9 to rationalize their situation. Probably more 30.1 Not married to childʼs mother important is that 59.3 some of the men’s co-parenting experiences with the mothers may have been problematic, and those divorced from the Not very religious 41.5 mothers (who can’t be identified in the survey data) may have 57.6 experienced unsuccessful co-parenting before the divorce. If so, the men’s personal experiences may have colored their Moderately religious 32.6 10 views about marriage and childʼs mother general. Married to mothers in 64.8 50 and older 67 Not at all religious 0.366 Very religious 27 ATTITUDINAL SUPPORT 40-49 62.5 Not very religious GOVERNMENT 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 FOR HELP TO0 60 70 0.208 0 10 20 30 40 50 FATHERS 7. “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement aboutses to Statement espondentʼs Age FIGURE 30-39FIGURE 8. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement Importance of Marriage to Fatherhood, by Whether or Not 63.4 Moderately religious interest Respondent Was Married to Mother of Focal Child Of special 0.134to activists in the movements to that More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Religiosity promote responsible fatherhood and healthy marriages are advocates of state and federal programs to promote the responses to the question about whether or not the 18-29 48.4 Very religious responsible fatherhood is that “very religious” fathers, who government should do more to help and support fathers. 0.064 are among the strongest supporters of responsible fatherhood, Although agreement among the respondents that the as a whole seem not to 30 very enthusiastic70 0 10 20 be 40 50 60 about the government should do0.2 0 0.1 more 0.3 moderately high, a third did was 0.4 FIGURE 13. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses One possible reason is government assistance (see Figure 8). to Statement F not agree that greater government assistance is needed, andGURE 12. Associationthird “strongly agreed” that the government should give athat There is a Father-Absence Crisis, by of religiosity with economic moderately high association Respondentʼs Age only a (Gamma) of Responses to Father-Absence Crisisestion with Responses to Government-Support Question, by Religiosity conservatism and the fact that economic conservatives more help and support. tend not to favor government social programs. However, a A finding that may cause some consternation among multivariate analysis shows that 79 percent of the association 100,000 and more 49.7 50 and older 67 75,000-99,999 11 58.9 © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 40-49 62.5 50,000-74,999 61.1
  • 12. Bachelorʼs degree 2.7 Bachelorʼs degree 9.7 Not very religious Some college 2.9 Some college 15.1 Moderately religious HS completion 3.2 HS completion 21.8 No HS completion 3.5 No HS completion 31.6 Very religious of religiosity with responses to the “governmental 0 support” question 2.5 3 3.5 0.5 1 1.5 2 remains after 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 0 0 such variables Mixed/other 49.3 as race, education, age of the respondents, and FIGURE 2. Mean Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to FIGURE 3. Mean Replacea FIGURE 1. Mean Replaceability of Fathers Index, by Education household income are statistically held constant. Replaceability Statements, by Education Father It seems, therefore, that religiosity itself, or something closely associated with it, may Black/African American 65.7 contribute to lack of support for government programs for fathers. For instance, some highly“...more religious persons may believe that assistance to fathers is best left to churches and other religious White 29.4religious organizations.respondents A multivariate analysis shows that household 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70were more income and race are strongly related to attitudes FIGURE 9. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement about government assistance when severallikely to other variables are statistically held constant. that More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Raceperceive African Americans are unusually likely to favor the government assistance while fathers witha father- Mixed/otherhigh household income are unusually likely 49.3 100,000 and more 15.2absence crisis not to favor it (see Figures 9 and 10). The latter 75,000-99,999 25 relationship suggests that the support of high-than the less income persons for the government programsreligious Americanmay be very hard to get. However, we report Black/African 65.7 50,000-74,999 33.1 below some findings that suggest that the viewsones...” of the high-income fathers may result partly from 35,000-49,999 45.5 lack of awareness of the seriousness of the father- Whiteabsence problem–something more changeable 29.4 than political ideology. Under 35,000 56.9 Work responsibilities 12 The bottom line40 that60 70 0 10 20 30 is 50 the bases of support Media/popular culture 20 30 408.2 50 60 0 10 for the government programs are complex, and Financial problems 6.9 FIGURE 9. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement FIGURE 10. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement that Lack of knowledge 5 efforts to increase the support need to take that that More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Race More Government SupportMother Childʼs of Fathers Is Needed, by Household Income 4.6 complexity into account. Lack of parenting resources 3.7 People at work 3.2 agreed” and those who “strongly agreed” that there Courts 3 is such a crisis. As stated above, only 62 percent Relatives 2.9 BELIEF IN A FATHER- School/childcare facilities selected the “strongly agree” 2.5 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers response alternative, so 2.4 there is considerable variation in the responses. ABSENCE CRISIS Male friends 2.2 Step-child/children 1.6 We again conducted a multivariate analysis to Although reported belief in a father-absence Woman, not childʼs mother 1.1 detect patterns of variation, and we discovered that crisis in this country was quite high among when other explanatory variables4were statistically 0 2 6 8 10 12 the respondents to the survey, support for held constant, the responses varied considerably by government and private programs to promote FIGURE 15. Mean Obstacles to Good Fathering religiosity and somewhat less byAll Fathers household Index, by Source, age and responsible fatherhood is likely to differ income. considerably between those who “somewhat Work responsibilities 12 Childʼs mother 12.2 Media/popular culture 8.2 Work responsibilities 10.7 Financial problems Financial problems 9.7 6.9 Not married to Lack of knowledge 5 Courts 8.9 12 Childʼs Mother 4.6 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative Media/popular culture 7.8 www.fatherhood.org Lack of parenting resources 3.7 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 5.6 Lack of knowledge 5.3
  • 13. Not at all religious 37.1 50 and older 3.2 3.4 Not very religious 43.5 40-49 Moderately religious 55.2 30-39 57 3.1 That the more religious respondents were more likely to Very religious 18-29 41.8 perceive a 2.5 more 100,000father-absence 15.2 than the less religious ones and crisis Not at all religious 76 42.6 (Figure 11) is expected and thus not particularly interesting. 0 10 20 30 40 50 0 0.5 1 1.5 are interesting, however, 25 the differences between the 40 50 60 70 80 What 2 2.5 3 3.5 75,000-99,999 are 0 10 20 30 “strongly agree” responses in Figure 11 and those in Figure Not very religious 56.5 FIGURE 5. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” FIGURE 6. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responselaceability of Fathers Index, by with government help and support. Seventy- 8, which deals Religiosity about Importance of Marriage to Fatherhood, by Res 50,000-74,999 Responses to Statement about Importance of two percent of the “very religious”33.1 fathers “strongly agreed” Martiage to Fatherhood, by Religiosity Moderately religious 59.4 that there was a father-absence crisis, but only 27 percent of those highly religious respondents “strongly agreed” that the 35,000-49,999 45.5 government should give more help and support to fathers. In contrast, among the respondents who said 56.9 they were that Very religious 75.5 Under 35,000 “not at all religious,” the “strongly agree” responses are slightly higher for the government support question than for the 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 father-absence crisis question. FIGURE 11. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to FIGURE 10. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement that Statement that there is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Religiosity These differences reflect what researchers call a statistical More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Household Income interaction, which exists when the magnitude (and sometimes the direction) of an association between two variables depends on the value of a third variable. This interaction is graphically shown in Figure 12, which shows the association between Not at all religious 0.366 Not at all religious the responses to the father-absence42.6 question and those crisis to the government support question at each of four levels of religiosity. The statistic used is gamma, which is a measure of Not very religious 0.208 Not very religious 56.5 the association between the two variables. The value for the “very religious” is near zero and is not statistically significant Moderately religious 0.134 (that is, the small indicated association could easily have Moderately religious 59.4 resulted from chance), while the other gammas are statistically significant, and the one for “not at all religious” indicates a Very religious 0.064 positive association of moderate magnitude. Childʼs mother 12.2 Very religious 75.5 Work responsibilities 10.7 These findings indicate that9.7 whereas a large percentage of 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 Did not live with child 0.4 Financial problems highly religious fathers believe that there is a father-absence to childʼs mother Courts 8.9 Not married 84.6 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Media/popular culture them do not believe that government programs crisis, many of 7.8 FIGURE 12. Association (Gamma) of Responses to Father-Absence Crisis Childʼs friendsʼ FIGURE 11. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to to are an appropriate solution to that crisis. Contrary mothers 5.6 Question with Responses to Government-Support Question, by Religiosity Lack of Statement that there5.3 a Father-Absence Crisis, of the government knowledge is common belief, the strongest supporters by Religiosity Lack of parenting resources 5.1 The data on the relationship of belief in a father-absence programs seem to be4.9 relatively secular persons, and they Woman, not childʼs mother probably are predominantly moderate conservatives, centrists, crisis to the age of the fathers (Figure 13) is similar to those Relatives 3.7 Married to childʼs mother in Figure 6 on the importance of marriage toLived with child reported 51.3 School/childcare facilities liberals rather than extreme conservatives. and moderate 3.6 Of course,work findings from this survey provide no direct People at the 3.5 responsible fatherhood. That is, the youngest respondents Step-child/children 3.2 evidence on the general political and ideological positions differ from everyone else. Again, the meaning of the finding Male friends 2.4 is unclear. These young fathers might change as they grow of the fathers with the different views on fatherhood and on 0 20 40 60 80 100 government programs to support responsible fatherhood–a 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 older, or they might not. If they do not, their views reflect topic that deserves further investigation. FIGURE 17. Mean Summary Obstacles trend–and oneby supporters of responsible Mean Sum an emerging to Fathering Index, that FIGURE 18. FIGURE 16. Mean Obstacles to Good Fathering Index, by Whether or Not Respondent was Married to Motherdisturbing. fatherhood will find of Focal Child Whether or Not R Source, Fathers Not Married to Focal Childʼs Mother © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 13 No stepchildrened to childʼs mother 84.6 Did not live with child 93.2
  • 14. 62.6 Not at all religious 38.9 Not married to childʼs mother 30.1 59.3 Not very religious 41.5 As we show above, the higher-income 57.6 respondents to our survey were not very 50 and older 67 Not at all religious favorably inclined toward government programs 0.366 Moderately religious 32.6 Married to childʼs one possible reason being that to help fathers, mother 64.841.8 the economic conservatism that is prevalent 40-49 62.5 Very religious 27 Not very religious among higher-income persons makes them 0.208 40 50 60 70 unsupportive of government social50 60 70 0 10 20 30 40 programs of all kinds. However, the data in Figure 14 30-39 0 10 20 30 40 50 63.4e” Responses to Statement religious FIGURE 7. “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement about Moderately “...those 0.134hood, by Respondentʼs Age suggest another reason, namely, that higher- FIGURE 8. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement Importance of Marriage to Fatherhood, by Whether or Not income fathers are less Mother of Focal Child that More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Religiosity Respondent Was Married to inclined to consider respondents father-absence to be a major problem. One might 18-29 48.4 Very religious 0.064 who had speculate that higher-income fathers tend to be isolated from the segments of the population in 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 nonresident which 0.1 0 fatherlessness0.3 more prevalent, but in 0.2 is 0.4 FIGURE 13. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement fathers our sample there was virtually no relationship FIGURE 12. Association (Gamma) of Responses to Father-Absence Crisis that There is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Respondentʼs Age between household income and whether or not generally Question with Responses to Government-Support Question, by Religiosity the fathers lived with the focal child. Of course, did not the kind of fatherlessness in which the father does not acknowledge paternity, and the kind in regard those which the father provides little or no financial 100,000 and more 49.7 50 and older fathers very 67 support to the child, may be more prevalent at the lower income levels, and the negative 75,000-99,999 positively.” 58.9 consequences of fatherlessness are more obvious 40-49 62.5 and conspicuous among the poor. 50,000-74,999 61.1 30-39 63.4 OTHER ATTITUDES AND 35,000-49,999 68.7 PERCEPTIONS 18-29 48.4 35,000 71.5 We forgo detailed discussion of the variation in 100,000 and more the responses to the40 50 attitudinal questions, other 60 70 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 3 0 10 20 30 but the responses of all of the fathers to some FIGURE 14. Percentage of “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement 75,000-99,999 FIGURE 13. Percentage of “Strongly Agree”No stepchildren Responses to Statement 55.3 d 93.2 of the questions are instructive. For instance, that There is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Respondentʼs Age that There is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Household Incomey the fact that only 54 percent of the fathers 50,000-74,999 agreed, and only 22 percent “strongly agreed,” major segments of the population, though they that “When you first became a father, you felt are apparently somewhat more prevalent among 35,000-49,999 adequately prepared for fatherhood,” indicates the poor and those with relatively little formal a need for pre-fatherhood parental education. Under 35,000 One or more stepchildren 82.9 education. d 54.2 Similarly, the fact that only 78 percent agreed, and only 34 percent “strongly agreed,” that they About three-fourths of the respondents agreed that 0 20 now have the necessary skills and knowledge to they had involved, responsible fathers while they Age 40 an be good fathers indicates that parental education 80 were growing up, and 52 percent “strongly agreed.” Ages 18-3 0 20 40 60 100 0 20 40 60 80 100 However, of those who were not living with their is needed for many of those who are already FIGURE 19. Meanto be prevalent inFathering Index, by fathers. These needs seem Summary Obstacles to all biological or adoptive fathers at age 16, only 32 20. Mean Summa FIGURESummary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren by Age of Respondeot Respondent Lived with Focal Child 49.1 100,000 and more 35.8 55.3 14 Fathering Attitudes Survey 54.6 75,000-99,999 © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org 51.8 59.5

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