Who Believes That Two Parents Are More Effective at Raising Children – Mothers or Fathers?

May 6, 2006

WashingtonDC – As Father’s Day approaches and we plan to celebrate our Dads, Child Trends reminds us of some interesting facts on fathers. Did you know that more fathers than mothers believe that two parents are more effective at raising children than one parent alone? Forty-four percent of mothers believe one parent is sufficient while only 25 percent of fathers hold that belief.

Charting Parenthood: A Statistical Portrait of Fathers and Mothers in America, reveals additional important facts about fathers. Did you know that more than one in five preschool children in two-parent families have their father as the primary caregiver when the mother is at work, attending school, or looking for work?

“Most reports on parents tend to focus on mothers and motherhood. This tendency is because mothers have been the main source of information about families,” stated Brett Brown, Ph.D., senior researcher and program area director for trends and indicators. “It is important to know how fathers feel about parenting and to understand how they became parents. Fathers can be just as important in structuring a child’s well-being as the mother.”

What else have learned about fathers?

  • Most fathers who live with their children participate regularly in some kind of leisure or play activity with them. Sixty-eight percent of fathers played sports or participated in outdoor activities with their children at least once a week.
  • Fathers who live with their children are engaged in monitoring their daily activities and setting limits. For example, 61 percent of dads set the limits on television watching.

What do fathers contribute to a child’s well-being? According to additional research conducted by Child Trends, we know that children benefit from positive relationships with their parents.

  • Fathers contribute to their children’s healthy development in ways that are unique from their mothers. As an example, fathers promote a child’s intellectual development and social competence through physical play while mothers promote these skills through verbal expressions and teaching activities.
  • Care by fathers may be particularly influential in a child’s first year of life.
  • Father involvement has been found to a more important predictor than a mother’s involvement of the likelihood of a child getting better grades.

As you plan to celebrate Father’s Day, remember – Dads matter.