Father’s Day may be over but the role of fathers in family life still merits attention. Last week St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Aisha Sultan had an inspiring story on how black fathers are defying stereotypes by being just as involved with their childrens lives as Dads of other races. Indeed, there is good news to report, especially concerning fathers like Larry Porter, a mechanic who works 70 hours a week and still finds time every Sunday to see his two older children.
The study Ms. Sultan cites in her article, Fathers’ Involvement with their Children, however, also includes some sobering news in regards to fathers of all races. The report by the National Center for Health Statistics takes a rather broad view of fatherhood: “In this report, men were defined as fathers if they had biological or adopted children or if step- or partner’s children were living in the household.” Based on this definition, the researchers found that 27 percent of fathers lived apart from at least some of their children and these dads, as might be expected, were not very involved in caring for their children.
The researchers asked the fathers whether they had engaged in certain activities with their children in the last four weeks. Below are two charts that show the answers to these questions. Figure 2 shows results for fathers and children under age five, while Figure 3 shows results for fathers and children aged 5-18.