What About the Dads?

(WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2002) – How do men feel about parenthood? How involved are fathers in day-to-day parenting activities? Do men think single parents are just as effective as two-parent families? Do men wait longer to have children? With Father’s Day approaching, Child Trends is releasing a first-of its-kind report on parents – including fathers. While most parenting statistics have focused only on mothers, this report looks at what we know about both parents, offering a more complete picture of family life in the United States.

“Most reports on parents tend to focus on mothers, often because they have been the main source of information about families,” said Brett Brown, Ph.D., senior research associate at Child Trends. “This report is important because for the first time we have a comprehensive picture of how mothers and fathers feel about parenting, how they parent and how they came to be parents. It is also important because it points out where we are lacking important, quality, timely data.”

Findings in the report include:


  • Men are much more likely than women to believe that two parents are more effective at raising children than one parent alone; 26 percent of fathers vs. 42 percent of mothers believe one parent is sufficient.
  • More than one in five young children in two-parent families have their father as the primary caregiver when the mother is at work, attending school or looking for work.
  • Men are generally older than women when they have their first child; 11 percent of males were parents as teens, compared to 33 percent of women.
  • Fathers who live with their children are engaged in monitoring their daily activities and setting limits; for example, 61 percent set limits on television viewing.
  • Most fathers who live with their children participate regularly in some kind of leisure or play activity with them; for example, 68 percent played sports or participated in outdoor activities with their children at least once a week.

The report details more than 40 indicators in three areas: parenting, family formation and fertility. Topics include: parenting practices, activities with children, child care, parents and schools, custody arrangements and nonresident parents, marriage, divorce and cohabitation, and sexual activity and contraception.

Media can obtain a review copy of Charting Parenthood: A Statistical Portrait of Fathers and Mothers in America by contacting Amber Moore at 202-572-6134 or amoore@childtrends.org.

Child Trends, founded in 1979, is an independent, nonpartisan research center dedicated to improving the lives of children and their families by conducting research and providing science-based information to the public and decision-makers.