The Evolving American Father


  • The Pew Research conducted studies that observe how the role of a father has evolved over the years.
  • The studies also examined how the evolution of the role of a father has affected the lives of their children.
  • With gender roles constantly shifting, fathers are consistently seen as more capable in many roles than in previous generations.

For the Dads in this world, nothing is considered more important than their children. They have been given the opportunity to be an active parent in the lives of their children, and for them, there is no greater role that they play in their lives.

While fatherhood may be a constantly evolving concept, involving everything from being the primary caretaker at home to being a single parent entirely, it does not change the fact that these parents have forged their own path in the lives of their children, providing stability, growth and love.

The Pew Research Center recently detailed a list of six facts that are associated with the American father.  This list shows how fatherhood has impacted society and how the role of being a father has on a child.

Being Dad

In providing an environment for children to flourish, fathers have created a role for themselves in their children’s lives, and this role in one that helps define them. According to recent studies by the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of fathers say that being a dad is extremely important to their overall identity.

Furthermore, the extent to which fathers and mothers consider being a parent central to their overall identity does not vary significantly by marital status. Approximately, the same share of married parents, those who live with a partner, and those who do not have a spouse or partner say that being a parent is extremely important to their identity.

For these parents, it also does not affect their overall experience. According to the study, 54 percent of dads report that parenting is rewarding all of the time, and 52 percent of moms report the same. The same study found that 46 percent of fathers and 41 percent of mothers say they find parenting enjoyable all of the time.

Being involved

The involvement of dads has risen in recent years. In generations prior, many fathers were not asked to be stay-at-home parents or asked to be single parents, but in today’s society, this is a role that dads are taking on with pride.

According to the Pew Research Center, fathers reported in 2015 to be spending seven hours a week on average on child care, which is nearly triple the time they provided in 1965.

Even with that rise in parenting and child care, many fathers do not feel like they spend enough time with their children. Approximately 48 percent of dads say that they spend too little time with their children, in comparison to 25 percent of moms that feel the same.

There also is a sense of unsureness that many fathers express in their parenting styles, and this is seen in 39 percent of fathers saying that they are doing a good job raising their children, in comparison to 51 percent of mothers. This type of disparity is not correlated with marital status, according to the data.

Being a provider

Many fathers still find themselves fulfilling many preconceptions that exist, in being the primary breadwinner of a household. Considering that only 27 percent of couples who live with children younger than the age of 18 are in families where only the father works, it is understandable that the family dynamics have shifted to allow for more dual-income households and more comfortable standards of living.

Even as the expansion of dual-income households continues, what it means to be a provider is in a constant state of change. For many it is providing morals and values, and 58 percent of Americans say that it is extremely important for a father to provide morals and values to his children.

In addition, 52 percent of the people surveyed say that it is extremely important for a dad to provide emotional support, and 47 percent state that fathers need to provide discipline to their children.

These percentages juxtapose with the 41 percent that say that providing income for his children is one of a dad’s most important responsibilities.

Being able to balance

Just as it is important to provide an income for children, fathers find it equally as important to be able to spend time with them. However, this is a task that many parents struggle with, which is why 52 percent of working dads said that balancing work and family life is very or somewhat difficult thing to do. This is in comparison to the 60 percent of working mothers who feel that balancing their careers and families can be challenging.

The research found that the attitudes that fathers and mothers hold toward balancing their job and their family life are highly correlated with their experiences as parents. Those who say it is hard for them to maintain the balance between family and work are far less likely than parents who do not report that being a parent is enjoyable all of the time.

Similarly, working parents who find it challenging to balance work and family also are less inclined than those who do not say that being a parent is rewarding all of the time.

Being who they are

Even though there may be preconceived notions that say otherwise, men are caring and nurturing individuals. As fathers, they have the ability to provide the love and nurturing environment that their child needs to grow. While the perception that men are not as naturally gifted to care for a child or a baby as women still exists, the stereotype is slowly dying.

This can be seen in countless court cases and countless studies, but in this particular survey, 71 percent of Americans that say that it is equally important for new babies to have as much time to bond with their fathers as with their mothers. Of those who felt this way, 89 percent said that fathers and mothers both do an equally good job of caring for a new baby.

Even though equality in the perception of nurturing and caring for a child is being pursued, it has yet to be reached as 53 percent of Americans say that, breast-feeding aside, mothers do a better job than fathers in caring for a new baby. However, 45 percent state that both fathers and mothers do the job equally well.

Being present

Fathers and mothers both have the important job of bringing children into this world and raising them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are a part of society, and many consider the way they are raised and react to the world around them, a reflection of those who raised them. With the opportunities that they, as children, have been afforded and the skills that they have learned over their developmental adolescence, they are expected to be ready to take on the world, and that starts with their dad and mom.

Co-parents need to understand the important roles that they individually fill in the lives of their children. They need to be aware that while they fill an individually important role, it does not negate the individual role that the other fills in the lives of their children.

As fathers, the role that they fill is important to them, and in amicable situations, they are able to realize how important the mother role is to their co-parent. This realization should provide the context necessary to coexist as evolved parents in the lives of their children moving forward.

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