The Council on Contemporary Families, a think tank on family life that I looooovvvveeeeeee, recently sent out a mailing all about fathers and Father’s Day. As a lover of research-based insight (and trivia), I wanted to share. Happy Father’s Day to the Dads and Stepdads reading. As a group you are more involved with your children and stepchildren than ever before, and making an unprecedented impact on not only your sons and daughters, but on the footprint of fathering more generally. You’re changing the way your children will parent. I love you!
1. This year marks the 100th anniversary of Father’s Day. So, um, happy Birthday, Father’s Day!
2. June 19, 1910, the first Father’s Day, was celebrated in Spokane, Washington, after Sonora Dodd convinced the mayor that fathers such as hers, a widowed farmer who raised his six children, deserved their own day of recognition.
3. Not until 1972 did President Richard M. Nixon sign the holiday into law. Father’s Day is now observed world-wide, with at least 52 countries setting aside a day to honor dad.
4. Fatherhood has changed dramatically since 1910, and even since 1972. Between 1965 and 2003, men tripled the amount of time they spent caring for their children. Fathering is no longer an arm’s-length endeavor thanks to men who have stepped up.
5. In the U.S. there are 30.2 million fathers living with children under 18. Eighty-five percent of these men live with their biological children only, 11 percent live with stepchildren
and 4 percent live with adopted children. Many other children have stepfathers, adoptive fathers,foster fathers, grandfathers, and family friends who function as “social” or “psychological fathers.”
6. Almost one-quarter (24 percent) of the nation’s 11.2 million preschool-age children with a working mom are regularly cared for by dad during mom’s working hours. An estimated 158,000 men are stay-at-home dads whose wives support the family financially.
7. Fathers with children aged 3 to 5 in the home read to them 6 times a week on average, compared to almost 7 times per week for mothers. Seventy percent of fathers have dinner with their child every night during a typical week. Studies show that on average, African-American fathers in two-parentfamilies are more directly involved with their children than White or Latino fathers are with theirs.
8. More than 24 million children live apart from their biological fathers. That is 1 out of every 3 (33 percent) children in America – three times the proportion (11 percent) of children who lived in absent-father homes in 1960.
9. Another 2 million children live without a mother in the home. In 2009, there were 1.7 million single fathers in the United States. This amounts to 15 percent of all single parents. About half were divorced, 29 percent never married, 18 percent separated, and 5 percent widowed.
10. Custodial fathers and mothers are equally (un)likely to receive child support. For both men and women, only 45 percent of custodial parents received all of their allotted child support in 2007.
11. Dad’s involvement predicts children’s success. Children whose fathers are positively involved with them have fewer behavior problems, higher cognitive development, greater maturity and a lower likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse than children whose fathers have only fair to poor relationships with them
12. Fathers themselves benefit from being involved with their children and mothers tend to be less depressed when fathers have relationships with the children.
13. It doesn’t matter whether dad is a “biological” dad or whether he lives in the same home as his child: social support from dad is protective for children.
14. Stepfathers make a difference, too. Adolescents with close emotional ties to both a
stepfather and a nonresident biological father have better health outcomes than teens who are close to only their father.
Thanks to the Council on Contemporary Families for this marvelous research.