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    Pops culture fatherattitude Pops culture fatherattitude Document Transcript

    • 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 
    • 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
    • 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 
    • 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
    • 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 
    • 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
    • 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 
    • 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
    • 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 
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • 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
    • percent agreed with the responsible father statement and only14 percent strongly agreed. On a related topic, about three-fourths of the fathers who responded to the relevant questionagreed that they were better fathers than their own fatherswere, and 35 percent “strongly agreed.” However this questionwas apparently difficult for some of the fathers to answer,because an unusually large number (four percent) either saidthat they weren’t sure or refused to answer the question. Ofthose who did not live with their fathers at age 16 and whoresponded to the question, 94 percent agreed and 68 percent“strongly agreed” that they were better fathers than their ownfathers were. Clearly, those respondents who had nonresidentfathers generally did not regard those fathers very positively.© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 15
    • 100,000 and more 15.2 Mixed/other 49.3 75,000-99,999 25RESPONDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS Black/African AmericanOF OBSTACLES TO GOOD FATHERING 65.7 50,000-74,999 33.1 35,000-49,999 45.5 The respondents to the survey were presented Work responsibilities 12 White 29.4 with 14 conditions that might be obstacles Media/popular culture 8.2 Under 35,000 Financial problems 56.9 to being a good father and were asked to rate 6.9 Lack of knowledge 5 each according to how much it was an obstacle, 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 Childʼs Mother 0 4.6 10 20 30 40 50 60 the response alternatives being “a great deal,” Lack of parenting resources 3.7 FIGURE 9. Percentage of “not very much,” and “not at all.” “somewhat,” “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement FIGURE 10. work People at Percentage3.2 “Strongly Agree” Responses to Statement t of thatFor each condition weFathers Is Needed,aby Race More Government Support of constructed Fathering More Government Support of Fathers Is Needed, by Household Incom Courts 3 Relatives 2.9 Obstacle Index by scoring “not at all” zero, “not School/childcare facilities“The most 2.5 very much” one, “somewhat” two, and “a great Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 2.4 deal” three and then multiplying by ten. The Male friendscommonly 2.2 mean values for all of the respondents are given Step-child/children 1.6perceived in Figure 15. Woman, not childʼs mother 1.1 0 2 4 6 8 10 12obstacle by a The most commonly perceived obstacle by a wide margin was work responsibilities, followed by the FIGURE 15. Mean Obstacles to Good Fatheringwide margin media/popular culture, and financial problems. Index, by Source, All Fatherswas work “A lack of knowledge about how to be a good father” and “resistance/lack of encouragementresponsibili- from the child’s mother” rank next, choice ofties...” the latter obstacle being largely by fathers not Work responsibilities 12 Childʼs mother Work responsibilities 10.7 12.2 married to the culture Media/popular mother of the focal child selected 8.2 Financial problems 9.7 for this Financial problemsother mean6.9 study. The index values are Courts 8.9 No Lack of knowledge 5 quite low, evenMother Childʼs though a few fathers considered 4.6 Media/popular culture 7.8 each condition to be an important obstacle. Lack of parenting resources 3.7 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 5.6 People at work 3.2 Lack of knowledge 5.3 The reported perceptions3 of obstacles to good Courts Lack of parenting resources 5.1 fathering by the 150 fathers not married to the Relatives 2.9 Woman, not childʼs mother 4.9 Relatives 3.7 mother of the facilities child differ in important ways School/childcare focal 2.5 School/childcare facilities 3.6 fromChildʼs friendsʼ the fathers as a whole (see Figure those of mothers 2.2 2.4 Male friends People at work 3.5 16). Among these respondents, “resistance/lack Step-child/children 1.6 Did not Step-child/children live with child 3.2 61.7 of encouragement from the child’s mother” Woman, not childʼs mother 1.1 Male friends 2.4 ranked first, and “treatment of6fathers by 0 2 4 8 10 12 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 the courts,” “lack of acceptance and support FIG from mothers of your child’s Good Fathering “a FIGURE 15. Mean Obstacles to friends,” and FIGURE 16. Mean Obstacles to Good Fathering Index, by Wheth Index, by Source, All Fathers relationship with a woman other than the child’s Source, Fathers Not Married to Focal Childʼs Mother Lived with child 21.4 mother” all ranked several positions higher than among all respondents. Furthermore, the index value is higher for the fathers not married to the mother of the focal child than for all fathers on 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 most of the conditions, the only major exception being “work responsibilities.” These findings FIGURE 21. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They add to the already substantial body of evidence Spent an Inadequate Amount of Time with Focal Child, by on the importance of marriage for responsible Whether or Not They Lived with That Child fatherhood. 16 Did not live with child Fathering Attitudes Survey 61.7 Did not live with child © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org 46.6
    • Not at all religious Not at all religious 42.6 Not very religious 0.208 25 Not very religious 56.5 33.1 Moderately religious 0.134 Moderately religious 59.4 For the purpose of doing a multivariate analysis, we created 45.5 Childʼs mother 12 12.2 Very religious 0.064 8.2 what we call the Summary Work responsibilities Fathering Index Obstacles to 10.7 Very religious (SOFI), which is based on the responses to all of the 14 Financial problems 9.7 75.5 6.9 56.9 Not married to childʼs mother 84.6 5 Courts relevant questions. This index is the sum of the values for 8.9 0 0.1 0.2 4.6 Media/popular culture 7.80 30 40 50 60 the Obstacles to Fathering Index for the individual questions 40 50 60 70 80 0 10 20 30 FIGURE 12. Association (Gamma) of Responses to7 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 5.6 and thus is a global measureLack of knowledge 11. perceptions of Agree” Responses to of the fathers’ Percentage of “Strongly FIGURE 5.3 Question with Responses to Government-Support QAgree” Responses to Statement that good fathers. We used the there is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Religiosity obstacles to being Lack of parenting resources that multivariate Statement 5.1 s Is Needed,analysis to Income the Woman, not childʼs mother to different by Household see how index values relate 4.9 Relatives 3.7 Married to childʼs mother explanatory variables when the other explanatory variables are 51.3 School/childcare facilities 3.6 statistically held constant. People at work 3.5 Step-child/children 3.2 The explanatory variables that emerged as being Male friends 2.4 independently related to the SOFI are being married to 0 20 40 60 80 100 4 6 8 the mother of the focal child, living with 0 2 focal6child, 12 14 10 12 the 4 8 10 FIGURE 17. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by having one or more stepchildren, age of thetorespondent, Index, by to Good Fathering FIGURE 16. Mean Obstacles Good Fathering and Whether or Not Respondent was Married to Mother of Focal ChildAll Fathers household income. Race, education,Not Married to Focal Childʼs Mother Source, Fathers and age of the focal child bear no substantial relationship to the index values when the other explanatory variables are held constant. The relationship (without controls for other variables) of12.2 being married to the focal child’s mother to the SOFI is shown in Figure 17. Obviously, the relationship is strong, as it is even after other explanatory variables are held constant. Not married to childʼs mother 84.6 Did not live with child 93.2 This is additional evidence of the importance of marriage in enabling good fathering. Another variable closely related to being married to the mother of the focal child is living with the focal child, but One o these two variables seem to exert influence51.3 Married to childʼs mother independently of Lived with child 54.2 one another. The relationship of living with the child to the No stepchildren SOFI is shown in Figure 18, and itnot live with child 61.7 Did is even stronger than the 46.6 relationship of being married to the mother of the focal child 0 20 40 60 80 100 to the SOFI. 0 20 40 60 80 1000 12 14 FIGUR This strong relationship adds to Obstacles to Fathering Index, by FIGURE 17. Mean Summary the already strong evidence FIGURE 18. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by Whet Index, by Whether or Not Respondent Lived with Focal Child on the importance to good fathering of to Mother of Focal Child Whether or Not Respondent was Married co-residence with the Mother One or more stepchildren child. Lived with child 19.7 Having a stepchild or stepchildren did not loom large as an obstacle to good fathering for the sample as a whole because 30 40 only60 percent had at least one stepchild under 0 50 10 70 age 18. 20 30 40 50 10 0 5 10 1 However, for those few, step-parenting did seem to be annts Who Said That They obstacle to being a good FIGURE 22. Percentage of19). FIGURE 23. Percentage of Responde important father (see Figure Respondents Who Said Thatme with Focal Child, by Were Less than “Very Close” to Foca The difference shown in the figure is statistically significant, to Focal Child, by They Were Less than “Very Close” Not Respondent Had a Stepchilwith That Child as is the relationship when other explanatory variables Lived with That Child Whether or Not They are statistically held constant. More than a quarter of the fathers Child 13-17 © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative 46.6 www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey No stepchildren 20.8 17
    • 50 and older 67 0.366 75,000-99,999 40-49 62.5 0.208 50,000-74,999 30-39 63.4 35,000-49,999 0.134 18-29 48.4 35,000 who had a stepchild or stepchildren agreed that “Responsibility for a stepchild or stepchildren” 40 50 60 70 0 10 20 30 0 10 20 30 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 was an obstacle to being a good father. This FIGURE 14. Percentage of “Strongly Ag No stepchildren is further evidence that fathering tends to be Agree” Responses to Statement FIGURE 13. Percentage of “Strongly 55.3 Did not live with child 93.2 that There is a Father-Absence Cris of Responses to Father-Absence Crisis 84.6 that There is a Father-Absence Crisis, by Respondentʼs Age ment-Support Question, by Religiosity more difficult with less conventional and more complex family forms. The multivariate analysis showed a positive association of age of the respondents with the3 “...this find- SOFI, but because this relationship appeared Lived with child 54.2 One or more stepchildren 82.9 ing identifies only after household income was held constant, we report data in Figure 20 that shows the older low-in- relationship of the index values to both age of 0 20 40 60 80 100 come fathers 60 80 100 the respondent and0household income.80 100 20 40 60 The reported perceived obstacles to to Fathering Index, by good fathering FIGURE 19. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by as a group ering Index, by FIGURE 18. Mean Summary Obstacles were higher for the Respondent Lived with Focal Child Whether or Not older respondents at all Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildrenther of Focal Child who appear to age levels, and the perceived obstacles varied inversely with household income among both be especially the younger and the older fathers. The SOFI 100,000 and more 49.1 in need of as- 35.8 is especially high for the older low-income 54.6 No stepchildren fathers, who, in contrast to the younger low- 75,000-99,999 sistance with 55.3 income fathers, were almost certainly unlikely to 51.8 their father- 59.5 anticipate that their economic condition would 50,000-74,999 52.9 ing.” improve very much. Also, some research has indicated that income is to some extent a marker 35,000-49,999 65.3 60.7 for parental competence4, and this is likely to be Under 35,000 101.2 One or more stepchildren more true for older than for younger persons. At 82.9 68.2 any rate, this finding identifies older low-income 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 fathers as a group who appear to be Child 13-17 in especially 36.2 Age 40 and older need of assistance with their fathering. Ages 18-39 Not married to child No stepchildren 0 20.8 20 40 60 80 100 FIGURE 19. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by FIGURE 20. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren Child 6-12 19.2 by Age of Respondent and Household Income Married to child or more stepchildren 37.5 Child 0-5 12.5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 GURE 23. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They FIGURE 24. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They FIGURE 25. MeanWere Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Whether or Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Age of Child or Not Responda Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren 36.2 Not married to childʼs mother 18.8 18 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative Did not live with child www.fatherhood.org
    • © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 19
    • Work responsibilities 12 Childʼs mother 12.2 Media/popular culture Work responsibilities 10.7RESPONDENTS’ PERFORMANCE 8.2 Financial problems Financial problems 9.7 6.9 Not married to chil Lack of knowledge 5 Courts 8.9 Childʼs Mother Media/popular culture 7.8AS FATHERS Lack of parenting resources 3.7 4.6 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 5.6 People at work 3.2 Lack of knowledge 5.3 We Courts no illusions about being able to gauge of parenting resources have 3 Lack 5.1 with precision Relatives 2.9 how well the respondents to theWoman, not childʼs mother 4.9 School/childcare facilities Relatives 3.7 Married to chil survey have 2.5 performed as fathers. If, as seems School/childcare facilities 3.6 Childʼs friendsʼ mothers 2.4 Did not live with child 61.7 to be the case, being a father is generally an Male friends 2.2 People at work 3.5 important part of the men’s identities, the self Step-child/children 1.6 Step-child/children 3.2 Woman, not childʼs motherof1.1 reports what they do as a father will tend Male friends 2.4 to be colored by4a natural tendency to deny 0 2 6 8 10 12 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 or downplay deficiencies and exaggerate the FIGURE 17. Mean Su FIGURE 16. Mean Obstacles to Good Fathering Index, by“One might FIGURE 15. Mean aspects to Good Fathering positive Obstacles of their fathering. Therefore, we Lived with child Source, Fathers Not Married to Focal Childʼs 21.4 Mother Whether or Not Respo interpret Source, All Fatherswith caution and place Index, by the findingsthink that more emphasis on variations in responses amongfathers would different kinds of fathers than on the responses from the entire sample (what researchers call thebe relatively 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 marginal frequencies).willing to ad- One might think that fathers would be relatively FIGURE 21. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They Spent an Inadequate Amount of Time with Focal Child, bymit that they willing to admit that they find it difficult to Whether or Not They Lived with That Child spend enough time with their children, givenfind it dif- that presumably a major reason for their lack officult to spend time is what they do to provide financially for their child or children. Still, the responses ofenough time the fathers to a question about the adequacy ofwith their Did not live with child that they were able to spend with their the time 61.7 Did not live with child 46.6children...” children are almost certainly biased toward the adequate end of the scale. Only 21 percent said that the time spent with the focal child selected for this study was less than adequate and 31 percent said that it was more than adequate, the remainder simply choosing “adequate.” The Lived with child 21.4 Lived with child 19.7 clustering of the responses near the high end of No stepchildren the scale shouldn’t be taken very seriously, but the variation in the responses makes sense. A multivariate analysis 40 50 60that fathers who 0 10 20 30 revealed 70 0 10 20 30 40 50 lived with their child were considerably more FIGURE 21. Percentageto Respondents Who Said That an adequate amount likely of say that they spend They FIGURE 22. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That Spent an Inadequate Amount ofhim/her and that other potentially of time with Time with Focal Child, by One or more stepchildren They Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by 6 Whether or Not They Lived with Thatmade little or no explanatory variables Child Whether or Not They Lived with That Child difference. The difference between the resident and nonresident fathers in the percentage who 0 1 2 3 4 5 said that they were not able to spend an adequate amount of time with their child is shown in FIGURE 28. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, by Figure 21. The responses of both kinds of fathers or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchild are likely to be biased, but the large difference in responses between the two almost certainly reflects a real difference. Wife, partner, or childʼs mother 89 20 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Other fathers or men 73.9 No stepchildren 7.9 Their mother 73.9
    • The fathers almost certainly also exaggerated their degree of closeness to their focal child, in that 40 percent said that they were “extremely close,” 37 percent said that they were Did not live with child only 2 percent said that they were “not at all “very close,” and 46.6 No stepchildren 20.8 close.” But again, the variation in the responses generally falls into patterns that would be expected. A multivariate analysis revealed the strongest relationship to be with whether or not the father lived with the focal child (the closeness of course is greater if he does), but the reported closeness is also greater if One or more stepchildren Lived with child 19.7 37.5 the father doesn’t have a stepchild or stepchildren (but bears no relationship to whether or not he has additional children of his own under age 18) and is greater for younger than for older children or0teenagers. The only40 50 10 20 30 counter-intuitive finding 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 is that, with the other explanatory variables statistically held constant,22. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That FIGURE the reported closeness of the fathers to the focal FIGURE 23. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They child is somewhat greater on to Focal Child, they were not married They Were Less than “Very Close” average if by Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren to the child’s mother. This with That Child Whether or Not They Lived finding resulted from two rare conditions, namely, the few fathers who lived with their focal child but were not married to the child’s mother reported explanation apparently lies in the complex and often less than feeling especially close to the child on average, and the few harmonious relationships that characterize some stepfamilies. who were married to the mother but did not live with the child reported an unusually low average degree of closeness. On the average, the fathers felt closest to their focal children ages 0-5 and least close to those who were teenagers (Figure The difference by residential status in the percentage of 24). This might be regarded as simply the result of a natural fathers who said that they were less than “very close” to the and normal progression toward independence of offspring focal child is reported in Figure 22. The difference is large as they grow older, but the relatively low degree of closeness and is not diminished by statistically holding constant the that the fathers felt toward their teenagers may be reason Wife, partner, or childʼs mother Their mother 74.8 other explanatory variables. The data in Figure 22 (as well89.1 as for concern. Parental guidance, which no doubt is highly those in Figure 21) clearly indicate that it is more difficult for Other fathers or men 73.9 Other fathers or men associated with parental closeness, is crucial in helping 68.4 7.9 men to be good fathers if they do not live with their children. adolescents avoid delinquency,childʼs mother and problems Wife, partner, or pregnancy, 68.4 Their mother 73.9 Evidence on this issue from some other sources is even with drugs and alcohol. We know of no strictly comparable Their father Other mothers or women 64.5 stronger than the evidence we report here.5 61.5 data about the closeness of mothers to their offspring, but we Other mothers or women Siblings suspect that the pattern of closeness by age of the offspring 57.4 Additional evidence that less conventional family forms 55.3 might be similar for mothers. Their father tend to hamper good fatheringA is reported in Figure54.5 place of worship 23, 55.5 which shows that, on the average, the fathers who had one Findings from other researchplace of worship A led us to expect that 47.1 fathers the Siblings 50.4 or more stepchildren felt less close to their focal child than would say that they felt closer to their male children than did the other fathers. Only a small part of this difference is A professional person A professional person 40 29 to their female ones. However, there was no statistically explained by the fact that the fathers with stepchildren were significant difference in the responses to the “closeness” 80 0 20 40 60 7 8 somewhat less likely to live with the focal child. 20 40 60 80 100 question by the gender of the focal child. Furthermore, the 0 Furthermore, the difference is not simply29. “dilution of resources” effect– They Hadpattern of difference FIGURE 30. Percentage of Respondents Not Married to the FIGURE a Percentage of Respondents Who Said That in reported closeness by age of the Whether whereby the father’s time and Selected Sources for Help sharedBetter Fathers offspring did not differ substantially by Who Said that They the Drawn on Drawn on attention must be in Being Mothers of Their Focal Child the gender of Had focal with other dependents–because there was essentially no child. Selected Sources for Help in Being Better Fathersren difference in reported closeness to the focal child according to whether the father had other own children under age 18. The We asked the survey respondents several questions about their © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 21
    • 4 100,000 and more 35.8 No stepchildren 55.3 75,000-99,999hild 93.2 50,000-74,999 35,000-49,999 Under 35,000 One or more stepchildren 82.9hild 54.2 activities with their focal child–questions that we realized are very susceptible to social desirability 0 20 4 Child 13-17 36.2 response bias; that is, to eliciting responses Age 40 and old No stepchildren 20.8 that reflect well on the respondent rather40 60 80 100 0 20 than Ages 18-39 0 20 40 60 80 100 honest ones. For each activity, the respondent FIGURE 19. Mean Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by FIGURE 20. Mean Summary On Summary Obstacles to Fathering Index, by asked if he had done it “frequently,” “fairly was Child 6-12 19.2 Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren by Age of Respondent a Not Respondent Lived with Focal Child often,” “infrequently,” or “never.” “Frequently” was the modal response for all of the activities One or more stepchildren “taken your child to work” (for which the except 37.5 modal response was “never”) and “taken your Child 0-5 12.5 child to a doctor or other professional person without the child’s mother present” (for which 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 the modal response 25 30 35 40 0 5 10 15 20 was “infrequently”). We are not inclined to take these responses at their FIGURE 24. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They FIGURE 23. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They face value, but the variation in responses among Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Age of Child Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Whether or the different categories of fathers might be Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren meaningful. Some of the activities are applicable mainly to infants and very young children, and we analyzed Child 13-17 36.2 responses to questions about these activities Not married to childʼs mother 18.8 only for respondents whose focal child was ages 0-5. Other activities are applicable mainly to Child 6-12 older children and adolescents, and we analyzed 19.2 responses to questions about these activities only for respondents whose focal child was ages 6-17. For each class of activities, we recoded Their mother 74.8 Married to childʼs mother 20.89.1 Child 0-5the responses so that “frequently” equals three 12.5 Other fathers or men 68.4 and “not at all” equals zero. We then summed Wife, partner, or for the items relating to each kind of the values childʼs mother 68.4 Graduate degree activities to create 20 Activities 35 64.5Child 0-5 0 5 10 15 an 25 30 with 40 0 5 10 15 20 25 Other mothers or women Index and an Activities with Child 6-17 Index. FIGURE 24. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That 57.4They Bachelorʼs degree FIGURE 25. Mean Activities with Child 0-5 Index, by Whether 7 Siblings Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Age of Activities A multivariate analysis with the Child or Not Respondant Was Married to Mother of Focal Child Their father with Child 0-5 Index as the outcome variable 55.5 Some college 7 revealedAit to beworship place of independently47.1 associated with income seem to have made little difference. only one explanatory variable, namely, whether A professional person 40 or not the father was married to the mother The values of the Activities HS completion 6-17 Index with Child 7.4 of the focal child, and 0 expected, 60 80 as 20 40 fathers are somewhat more variable than those of the80 100 No HS completion Activities with Child 0-5 Index and, according to 6.4 married to the mothers reported more activitiesat They Had on the 30. Percentage of Respondents Not Married to the FIGURE average. The difference without other a multivariate analysis, relate independently toer Fathers Mothers of Their Focalheld Who Said that shown in Figure variables being Child constant, They Had Drawn on three variables. Fathers who lived with the focal 4 0 2 6 Selected Sources for Help in Being Better Fathers child reported more activities than those who did 25, is small but statistically significant. Other potentially explanatory variables such as age of not; highly educated respondents reported more Child 6-17 Index FIGURE 27. Mean Activities with the respondent, race, education, and household activities than less educated ones; and fathers who 74.8 68.4 Not at all religio 68.4 22 Graduate degree Fathering Attitudes Survey 8.2 © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org64.5 Not very religio
    • Index, by Source, All Fathers Source, Fathers Not Married Married to childʼs mote stepchildren 37.5 Child 0-5 12.5 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 Not married to childʼs mother 18.8 Did not live with child 5.123. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They FIGURE 24. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They FIGURE 25. Mean Activitiss than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Whether or Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Age of Child or Not Respondant Wa Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren had a stepchild or stepchildren apparently were less active with their focal child than were other fathers (see Figures Married to childʼs mother 20.8 26, 27, and 28). These findings are consistent with those Lived with child 8.1 reported above that suggest that co-residence with the child, high education, and the lack of stepchildren are all conducive with child Did not live Did not live with ch 61.7 to good fathering. Again, the association of having25 or 0 5 10 15 20 one 0 2 4 6 8 10 more stepchildren with an unfavorable outcome cannot be explained simply by Activities with Child 0-5 Index, bybecause FIGURE 25. Mean a dilution of resources, Whether FIGURE 26. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, by respondents who had more than oneMother ofunder age 18 or Not Respondant Was Married to child Focal Child Whether or Not Respondant Lived with Focal Child Their mother reported slightly more activities with their focal child than did with child 74.8 Lived 21.4 Lived with ch those with only one child. Other fathers or men 68.4 Wife, partner,expected that the fathers would do more activities with We or childʼs mother 68.4 Graduate degree 8.2 their sons than with their daughters, and although the Other mothers or in the mean Activities with Child 0-5 Index and differences women 64.5 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 the mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index are in the predicted Percentage of Respondentsdegree That They Siblings 57.4 FIGURE 21. Bachelorʼs Who Said 7.8 FIGURE 22. P direction, neither is statistically significant. Therefore, whilean Inadequate Amount of Time with Focal Child, by Spent They Were L Their father 55.5 Some college we suspect that the fathers were somewhat more active with Whether or Not They Lived with That Child 7.8 Whethe A place of we cannot be highly confident that the observed their sons, worship 47.1 differences didn’t result from chance. A professional person 40 HS completion 7.4 The respondents were asked how comfortable they would be 0 20 40 60 80 discussing certain topics (sex, relationships/dating, alcoholat all religious Not No HS completion 6.4 21.3 use/abuse, tobacco use, illegal drug use, health issues, FIGURE 30.8.2 Percentage of Respondents Not Married to the Mothers of Their Focal Child Who Said that They Had Drawn on their focal child. character, and religion/spirituality) with 0 2 4 6 8 10 Selected topics for Help in Being mainly to the older offspring, so we religious These Sources are relevant Better Fathers Not very 22.8 7.8 analyzed only the responses from fathers whose focal child was FIGURE 27. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, by Education a teenager. Except for the first two topics, at least around 85 percent of the 222 fathers of teenagers said that they would religious 7.8 Moderately 16.9 be “very comfortable” discussing each topic with their focal child, and there was too little variation in the responses to 7.4 do a meaningful multivariate analysis with them. We view Very religious 10 No stepchildren 7.9 these high percentages with suspicion, but at least most of the 6.4 respondents felt that they should be comfortable discussing 0 5 10 15 20 25 4 such topics10 their teenagers. As would be expected, 6 8 with smaller percentages of the respondents said that they felt very comfortable discussing sex and relationships/dating with their Percentage of “Strongly more stepchildren to Father FIGURE 4. One or Agree” Responses 6.3 h Child 6-17 Index, by Education Replaceability Statements, by Religiosity focal child, but even these percentages are suspiciously high, being 54 and 71. The question about comfort in discussing sex yielded the only statistically significant difference in the entire study between the fathers of male and female focal 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 children–the “very comfortable” percentage being 66 for the former and only 39 for the latter. FIGURE 28. Mean Activities with Child 6-17 Index, by Whether or Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 23
    • Whether or Not They Lived with That Child Whether or Not They Lived with That Child Chid not live with child 46.6 No stepchildren 20.8 SOURCES TO AID FATHERING C Lived with child 19.7 The survey asked which of eight possible sources or more stepchildren One 37.5 had respondents drawn upon to improve their Wife, partner, or childʼs mother 89.1 fathering. Other fathers or men 73.9 0 20 The30 percentage of 10 No stepchildren 40 50 fathers who said that they had 7.9 0 5Their 15 20 25 30 35 40 73.9 10 mother drawn upon each source is reported in Figure 29. Their father FIGURE 22. Percentage of Respondents Who partner, or child’s mother” tops the list, FIGURE 23. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They 61.5 “Wife, Said That They Were Less than “Very Close”followed byby to Focal Child, other men–probably close friends– Were Less than “Very Close” to Focal Child, by Whether or Other mothers or women 55.3 Whether or Not They Lived with That Child Few had drawn upon a professional Not Respondent Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren and parents. “‘Wife, part- person, and only a little more than a half said A place of worship 54.5 One or more stepchildren ner, or child’s 6.3 that they had drawn on a place of worship. Siblings 50.4 Interpersonal relations, then, seem to have been mother tops the main sources of assistance. A professional person 29 the list of Space limitations preclude a7detailed 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 0 20 40 60 80 100 sources for examination of the variation in the responses, FIGURE 29. Percentage of Respondents Who Said That They Had Drawn on Selected Sources for Help in Being Better Fathers FIGURE 28. Mean Activities with Childis commonsensical. It’s not 6-17 Index, by Whether help in being Not Respondent of which instance, that “very religious” or most Had a Stepchild or Stepchildren surprising, for better fa- Wife, partner, or childʼs mother likely than others to have fathers were more 89.1 Their mother 74.8 drawn upon a place of worship (88 percent said thers...” that they had done so) or that those respondents Other fathers or men 73.9 Other fathers or men 68.4 who had lived with their fathers at age 16 and Wife, partner, or childʼs mother 68.4 Their mother 73.9 who considered those fathers to have been Their father Other mothers or women 64.5 involved and responsible 61.5 more likely than were other respondents to have drawn upon their Other mothers or women 55.3 Siblings 57.4 fathers (83 percent said that they had done so). Their father 55.5 A place of worship 54.5 One of the more important variations in A place of worship 47.1 responses Siblings 50.4 is between fathers not married to the motherperson A professional of their focal child and all other 29 A professional person 40 respondents, and thus we report the responses 0 20 40 60 80 of the former in Figure 40 60 80 100 0 20 30. These fathers were FIGURE 29. Percentage of Respondents other respondents to much less likely than Who Said That They Had FIGURE 30. Percentage of Respondents Not Married to the Drawn have gotten help from “wife, partner, or child’s on Selected Sources for Help in Being Better Fathers Mothers of Their Focal Child Who Said that They Had Drawn on mother” and were less likely to have gotten help Selected Sources for Help in Being Better Fathers from their father or a place of worship. They were more likely to have received assistance from siblings or a professional person, but the overall level of help that they got seems to have been lower on average than that received by other fathers. 24 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
    • © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 25
    • CONCLUSIONS Arguably the most important findings from this study are those that show a relationship of responsible fatherhood with co-residence with children and marriage to their mother. These two conditions tend to go together, and thus, in some analyses, only one of the two bears a statistically significant relationship to the outcome variable. Nevertheless, the two together“...our find- seem always to have important effects on men’s performance as fathers and on their perceptionsings suggest of the obstacles to being good fathers. Thatthat fathers co-residence with children and marriage to their mother is important to responsible fatherhoodwith stepchil- of course is not a new finding, and some otherdren, as a studies provide evidence on this issue that is even stronger than ours.5 However, the findings in thiswhole, should report provide insight into some of the specificsbe targeted of how co-residence with children and marriage to their mother promote good fathering, showingfor special for instance that many of the fathers not marriedattention by to the mothers believe that the mothers make it difficult from them to be good fathers.responsible The findings from this study about thefatherhood apparent effects of having stepchildren makeorganiza- a more unique contribution than do those about marriage and co-residence, given thetions.” fact that the extensive research on stepfamilies has generally not focused on the relationship that fathers with stepchildren, as a whole, should between stepfathers and their own children. It be targeted for special attention by responsible is important, therefore, that we found that for fatherhood organizations. The findings also add many of the fathers who had stepchildren, their to the large and growing body of evidence that the responsibilities for those children seemed to have kinds of families that have become more prevalent been an obstacle to good fathering of their own in the past few decades are not ideal for children. children. Having stepchildren often occurs along Another category of fathers who may warrant with lack of co-residence with own children and special attention are the older low-income fathers, lack of marriage to the mother of those children, who on the average perceived considerably greater but some of the negative effects of responsibility obstacles to being good fathers than even the for stepchildren seem to occur even in the younger low-income fathers. Older fathers perceived absence of the other two conditions. Of course, greater obstacles to fathering than younger ones at it is important to point out that any negative all income levels, but the difference was particularly effects of having responsibility for stepchildren great at the lowest level. We don’t know the reasons are not universal and that some step-families for this finding, but we speculate that many of the function very well. However, our findings suggest older low-income men have personal characteristics, 26 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
    • such as addictions and poor social skills, that partly account support for the government programs among the less religiousfor both their low-income and their problems with parenting. respondents but not among the very religious ones. AmongOr, the finding could simply be the result of the accumulated the fathers sampled who favor responsible fatherhood andeffects of years of poverty and lower expectations of future believe that there is not enough of it in America today, therefinancial improvement among the older low-income fathers. seems to be a split between those who strongly support the government fatherhood programs and those who give tepidThe greater obstacles to fathering perceived by the older support at most. Only activists “on the front line” knowrespondents are not explained by the fact that their children whether or not there is such a division within the fatherhoodwere older on the average, but the fathers of teenagers may movement, but its existence in the general public indicatesnevertheless need special attention. The respondents with a a need for those with the common goal of promotingteenage focal child reported feeling much less close to their responsible fatherhood to pursue that goal in non-conflictingfocal child on the average than did the respondents whose and at least minimally coordinated even though differentfocal child was younger. In view of the fact that teenagers ways.are at risk for numerous undesirable outcomes that a closerelationship with a father should help to prevent, assisting The survey yielded a moderate amount of information thatfathers to develop closer relationships with their adolescent should be useful to fatherhood activists in planning howoffspring strikes us as an especially important task to be to deliver assistance to fathers. For instance, according toundertaken by the responsible fatherhood movement. their survey responses, the fathers we studied had received assistance in being good fathers primarily from wives, mothersSeveral of our findings should be of concern to responsible of their children, their parents, and other fathers and menfatherhood organizations and might be an appropriate (probably mainly close friends). Few had used professionalbasis for some refocusing of efforts within the fatherhood help, and only a moderate number had drawn upon siblingsmovement. For instance, more than half of the fathers or a house of worship. In other words, they had generallyseemed to think that mothers or other men could adequately turned to the persons with whom they had the closestsubstitute for them–not the optimal point of view for relationships or with whom they shared an interest in themotivating involved, responsible, and committed fatherhood. child or children.Belief in the replaceability of fathers also was relatively highamong the respondents with graduate degrees, who haveimportance disproportionate to their numbers becauseof their influence on education, the media, and politics.Another elite group of fathers with troubling attitudes werethe highest income respondents, who were less likely tobelieve that there is a father-absence crisis in the country thanmedium and low-income respondents. All of these findingscall for increased efforts to educate fathers in general, andespecially certain kinds of fathers, about the importance offatherhood and the extent of father absence in the country.A finding that might be troubling to advocates of governmentprograms to promote responsible fatherhood is that the “veryreligious” fathers, who were among the strongest believersin responsible fatherhood and a father-absence crisis, wereless likely to favor the government programs than were theless religious respondents. Believing that there is a father-absence crisis in the country was rather highly predictive of© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 27
    • END NOTES 1. Although the data set contains a weight variable that allows the data to be weighted by age, race, ethnicity (Hispanic/non-Hispanic), education, and household income, the profile of the respondents and the rest of the data presented in this report are from the un-weighted sample. Weighting the sample makes the distributions of the weight variables in the sample artificially equal to the distributions derived from U. S. Bureau of the Census surveys, a procedure that is useful for some purposes. However, weighting the sample made little difference for the analyses we conducted for this report, and statistical tests of significance are not accurate when applied to the weighted data. Furthermore, the main reason for weighting data from telephone surveys is to correct for the under-representation in those surveys of young low-status males, and the weighting is unlikely to work well for our purposes. The reason is that the young low-status fathers included in the sample are likely to be more responsible parents on the average than those who cannot be reached through a telephone survey, and the weighting is based on the assumption that the young low-status males reached are representative of that demographic category on the main variables covered on the survey. 2. For instance, see U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, Fertility, Contraception, and Fatherhood: Data on Men and Women from Cycle 6 of the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth (Hyattsville, MD, June, 2006). 3. Norval D. Glenn, With This Ring: A Survey on Marriage in America (Gaithersburg, MD: National Fatherhood Initiative, 2005). 4. Susan E. Mayer, What Money Can’t Buy: Family Income and Children’s Life Chances (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). 5. For instance, see U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, op cit. This publication reports differences in activities with children between fathers who did and did not live with their children that seem to be larger than the similar kinds of differences we report here. One possible reason is that the measures of activities are not strictly comparable, but the main reason is likely to be the almost certain inclusion of a larger proportion of the less responsible fathers in the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) sample. The NSFG included fathers as young as 15, and being a face-to-face survey, it should have been more effective than a telephone survey in locating hard-to- reach kinds of persons.28 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org
    • TECHNICALAPPENDIXThe questionnaire for this study was designed by Norval Glenn of the University of Texas at Austinand David Popenoe of Rutgers University in consultation with staff members at National FatherhoodInitiative. The interviews were conducted by telephone by Harris Interactive, one of the leadingcommercial survey research firms, which designed the sample to be representative of men age 18 andolder who had at least one biological or adoptive child under age 18 and who lived in householdswith at least one line telephone in the 48 contiguous United States (excluding Alaska and Hawaii).Telephone surveys are known to under-represent young unmarried low-status males, and all surveysthat interview one adult from each sampled household under-represent adults in households that havemore than the average number of adults. In order to deal with these known biases in the data, HarrisInteractive provided a weight variable, based on information from U. S. Census Bureau surveys, to makethe sample representative in terms of education, race, ethnicity, income, age, and number of adults inthe household. However, use of the weight variable made little difference for the analyses conductedfor this study, and the results of statistical tests of significance are not accurate with the weighted data.Furthermore, the weighting does not deal with the most important likely bias in the data from thissurvey, namely, the almost certain under-representation within demographic categories of the leastresponsible fathers. Therefore, the data presented in this report are not weighted. The following differences between the weighted and un-weighted data are typical: WEIGHTED UNWEIGHTED Reported feeling “extremely close” to focal child (the 40.0% 40.1 child selected for special emphasis on the survey) Reported spending less than adequate time with 27.9 25.8 focal child Strongly agreed that a mother can adequately 22.9 19.6 substitute for an involved father Strongly agreed that a male role model can 15.1 13.3 adequately substitute for an involved father Strongly agreed that men perform best as fathers if 52.5 56.9 they are married to the mothers of their children Strongly agreed that the government should do more 37.9 33.3 to help and support fathersAs is usual, the weighting made even less difference in the relationships between variables than in thelevels of the individual variables.This project was supported by Grant No. 2001-DD-BX-0079 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includesthe Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice andDelinquency Prevention, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in thisdocument are those of the author and do not represent the official position or policies of the UnitedStates Department of Justice.© 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org Fathering Attitudes Survey 29
    • ABOUT NATIONAL FATHERHOOD INITIATIVE National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) was founded in 1994 to stimulate a society-wide movement to confront the growing problem of father absence. NFI’s mission is to improve the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers in their lives. A non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian organization, NFI pursues its mission through a three-E strategy of educating, equipping, and engaging all sectors of society on the issue of responsible fatherhood. NFI educates and inspires all people, especially fathers, through public awareness campaigns, research, and other resources, publications, and media appearances centered on highlighting the unique and irreplaceable role fathers play in the lives of children. NFI’s national public service advertising campaign promoting fatherhood has generated television, radio, print, Internet, and outdoor advertising valued at over $460 million at the time this study was published. NFI equips fathers and develops leaders of national, state, and community fatherhood programs and initiatives through curricula, training, and technical assistance. Through its National Fatherhood Clearinghouse and Resource Center, NFI offers a wide range of innovative resources to assist fathers and organizations interested in reaching and supporting fathers. NFI engages all sectors of society through strategic alliances and partnerships to create unique and effective ways to reach all fathers at their points of need. NFI seeks partnerships through the three pillars of culture—business, faith, and government—to create culture change around the issue of fatherhood. For more information on the contents of this report, or for general information about NFI, call 301-948- 0599 or visit www.fatherhood.org.30 Fathering Attitudes Survey © 2006 National Fatherhood Initiative www.fatherhood.org