1996 GALLUP POLL ON FATHERING

"Fathers in America"

Recognition of the problem is growing

"The most significant family, or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home."

	Strongly agree		28.4%
	Agree			50.7%
	(Combined agreement:	79.1%)

	Disagree		 6.1% 
	Strongly disagree	 1.9%	
	(Combined disagreement:	18.0%)

1992 Gallup Poll response to the above question:

	Strongly agree		15.4%
	Agree			54.5%	
	(Combined agreement:	69.9%)

	Disagree		26.9%  
	Strongly disagree	 1.5%	
	(Combined disagreement:	28.4%)

Overwhelming agreement on need for both parents

 

"It's important for children to live in a home with both their mother and father."
	Strongly agree		53.7%
	Agree			37.2%
	(Combined agreement:	90.9%)
	
	Disagree		 6.4% 
	Strongly disagree	 1.1%
	(Combined disagreement:	 7.5%)

"Fathers make unique contributions to their children's lives."

	Strongly agree		43.2%
	Agree			47.1%	
	(Combined agreement:	90.3%)
	
	Disagree		 5.7%
	Strongly disagree	 1.9% 	
	(Combined disagreement:	 7.6%)

Need for increase in fathering skills

"You have a good handle on how your child's needs change as he or she grows up."

 

"Most fathers know what is going on in their children¼s lives."
	Strongly agree		 4.0%
	Agree			38.7%
	Disagree		47.8%  
	Strongly disagree	 6.2% 

"You express affection to your children."

		(Fathers only)

	Strongly agree		83.1%
	Agree			12.8% 	
	Disagree		 1.5%  
	Strongly disagree	 0.6%

(percentages may not total 100 percent because of those who refused to answer or responded "don't know.")

Fathers impact adult life

Three items in the NCF/Gallup poll measured the level of tension adults feel toward their fathers. Although it is difficult to admit any estrangement from a parent, men and women are recognizing a tension in relationships with their fathers, according to the results. Only 26% percent of men were strongly confident they could talk freely with their fathers:

"I can talk freely with my father."

			          
			RESULTS FOR MEN AND WOMEN:

				Men	Women
	Strongly agree		26%	31%
	Agree			50%	38%
	Strongly disagree	 4%	 6%
	Disagree		17%	22%
	Don¼t know		 1%	 1%
	Not Applicable		 2%	 1%

The results offer an interesting contrast between men and womenãwomen were less likely to feel free to talk with their father, but more women than men knew what their fathers felt toward them during their childhood.

"As a child you knew what your father felt about you."

Significantly, only one-third of the men surveyed could say with assurance that they felt at peace with their fathers:

"I feel at peace with my father."

 

All of the above findings help to explain why a majority agreed:

"Most people have unresolved problems with their fathers."

	Strongly agree		 6.8%
	Agree			47.3% 	
	(Combined agreement:	54.1%)

	Disagree		36.5%  
	Strongly disagree	 2.8% 	
	(Combined disagreement:	39.3%)

The work-family challenge

Two questions measured the degree to which employers understood the tension between work and family demands.

"Your employer recognizes the strain you face between the demands of your family and the demands of work."

 
		(Results for men)

	Mostly true		36.4%
	Somewhat true		18.7%
	(Combined true:		69.9%)

	Uncertain		 9.8%
	Somewhat false		12.8% 	
	Mostly false		14.9%
	(Combined false:	28.4%)

"If your employer implemented more family-friendly policies, you would be more productive at work."

				Dads	Moms about Dads

	Mostly true		40.2%	33.8%
	Somewhat true		20.9%	17.3%   	
	Somewhat false		10.4%	 6.2%
	Mostly false		 8.1%	 9.9%

Demographics and Methodology
A random national sampling of 793 adults was conducted from January 11‚18, 1996 by the Gallup Organization of Princeton, New Jersey, for the National Center for Fathering (NCF). The survey results came from telephone interviews and have a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. (In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting a survey can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.) Demographic weighting was applied to the data in order to bring the demographic characteristics of the sample into line with the most recently available Census Bureau estimates to which these results are projected, that is, the total population of adults (age eighteen and older) living in telephone households in the continental United States. Of the respondents, 39% had children under age eighteen, and 45% had children over eighteen. (The two groups obviously overlap.) Of the parents surveyed, 58% had children living with them, and 10% had children under eighteen but not living with them. Among the fathers, 17% had adopted or step-children.

TRENDS IN FATHERING

Father Count

Total fathers with their own children under 18 as of March 1994 (based on U.S. Census data)

	Married dads		25,598,000	71%
	Single care-taking dads	 1,556,000	 4%
	Non-custodial dads	 9,114,000	25%
	TOTAL			36,268,000

A fatherhood awakening

NCF Gallup Poll data shows the recognition of the problem of father absence is growing. In addition, these statistics from an advertising agency's annual "Lifestyle Survey" show that the younger generation are more committed to fathering than the older generation.

1996 GALLUP POLL ON FATHERING

"Fathers in America"

Recognition of the problem is growing

"The most significant family, or social problem facing America is the physical absence of the father from the home."

	Strongly agree		28.4%
	Agree			50.7%
	(Combined agreement:	79.1%)

	Disagree		 6.1% 
	Strongly disagree	 1.9%	
	(Combined disagreement:	18.0%)

1992 Gallup Poll response to the above question:

	Strongly agree		15.4%
	Agree			54.5%	
	(Combined agreement:	69.9%)

	Disagree		26.9%  
	Strongly disagree	 1.5%	
	(Combined disagreement:	28.4%)

Overwhelming agreement on need for both parents

 

"It's important for children to live in a home with both their mother and father."
	Strongly agree		53.7%
	Agree			37.2%
	(Combined agreement:	90.9%)
	
	Disagree		 6.4% 
	Strongly disagree	 1.1%
	(Combined disagreement:	 7.5%)

"Fathers make unique contributions to their children's lives."

	Strongly agree		43.2%
	Agree			47.1%	
	(Combined agreement:	90.3%)
	
	Disagree		 5.7%
	Strongly disagree	 1.9% 	
	(Combined disagreement:	 7.6%)

Need for increase in fathering skills

"You have a good handle on how your child's needs change as he or she grows up."

 

"Most fathers know what is going on in their children¼s lives."
	Strongly agree		 4.0%
	Agree			38.7%
	Disagree		47.8%  
	Strongly disagree	 6.2% 

"You express affection to your children."

		(Fathers only)

	Strongly agree		83.1%
	Agree			12.8% 	
	Disagree		 1.5%  
	Strongly disagree	 0.6%

(percentages may not total 100 percent because of those who refused to answer or responded "don't know.")

Fathers impact adult life

Three items in the NCF/Gallup poll measured the level of tension adults feel toward their fathers. Although it is difficult to admit any estrangement from a parent, men and women are recognizing a tension in relationships with their fathers, according to the results. Only 26% percent of men were strongly confident they could talk freely with their fathers:

"I can talk freely with my father."

			          
			RESULTS FOR MEN AND WOMEN:

				Men	Women
	Strongly agree		26%	31%
	Agree			50%	38%
	Strongly disagree	 4%	 6%
	Disagree		17%	22%
	Don¼t know		 1%	 1%
	Not Applicable		 2%	 1%

The results offer an interesting contrast between men and womenãwomen were less likely to feel free to talk with their father, but more women than men knew what their fathers felt toward them during their childhood.

"As a child you knew what your father felt about you."

Significantly, only one-third of the men surveyed could say with assurance that they felt at peace with their fathers:

"I feel at peace with my father."

 

All of the above findings help to explain why a majority agreed:

"Most people have unresolved problems with their fathers."

	Strongly agree		 6.8%
	Agree			47.3% 	
	(Combined agreement:	54.1%)

	Disagree		36.5%  
	Strongly disagree	 2.8% 	
	(Combined disagreement:	39.3%)

The work-family challenge

Two questions measured the degree to which employers understood the tension between work and family demands.

"Your employer recognizes the strain you face between the demands of your family and the demands of work."

 
		(Results for men)

	Mostly true		36.4%
	Somewhat true		18.7%
	(Combined true:		69.9%)

	Uncertain		 9.8%
	Somewhat false		12.8% 	
	Mostly false		14.9%
	(Combined false:	28.4%)

"If your employer implemented more family-friendly policies, you would be more productive at work."

				Dads	Moms about Dads

	Mostly true		40.2%	33.8%
	Somewhat true		20.9%	17.3%   	
	Somewhat false		10.4%	 6.2%
	Mostly false		 8.1%	 9.9%

Demographics and Methodology
A random national sampling of 793 adults was conducted from January 11‚18, 1996 by the Gallup Organization of Princeton, New Jersey, for the National Center for Fathering (NCF). The survey results came from telephone interviews and have a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. (In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting a survey can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.) Demographic weighting was applied to the data in order to bring the demographic characteristics of the sample into line with the most recently available Census Bureau estimates to which these results are projected, that is, the total population of adults (age eighteen and older) living in telephone households in the continental United States. Of the respondents, 39% had children under age eighteen, and 45% had children over eighteen. (The two groups obviously overlap.) Of the parents surveyed, 58% had children living with them, and 10% had children under eighteen but not living with them. Among the fathers, 17% had adopted or step-children.

TRENDS IN FATHERING

Father Count

Total fathers with their own children under 18 as of March 1994 (based on U.S. Census data)

	Married dads		25,598,000	71%
	Single care-taking dads	 1,556,000	 4%
	Non-custodial dads	 9,114,000	25%
	TOTAL			36,268,000

A fatherhood awakening

NCF Gallup Poll data shows the recognition of the problem of father absence is growing. In addition, these statistics from an advertising agency's annual "Lifestyle Survey" show that the younger generation are more committed to fathering than the older generation.

 

 

 

 

There are other signs besides the Lifestyle Survey that men are rediscovering fatherhood. For instance, estimates peg the number of dads who are present at their children's births as rising from 27% in 1974 to over 90% today. The growth of flextime is benefiting fathers. Almost half of fathers working at two federal agencies chose the option to come to work earlier so they could leave earlier to spend more time with their families.

Daddy Track
A 1987 Fortune magazine poll found 30% of fathers said they had personally turned down a job promotion or transfer because it would have reduced the time they spend with their families. In a 1991 survey, 75% of the men said they would trade rapid career advancement for the chance to leave more time open to their families. --- (Dallas Morning News)

"Second Time Around"
One dramatic indication of the rediscovery of fatherhood is the number of "second-time-around" dads - fathers who've raised children and then have what amounts to almost another generation of kids:

99,000 dads have children age 18-24 living at home and have no other children except one or more 5 and under in age. (1,000 of these are custodial single dads; the remainder are married.) (1993 Census Bureau data)

Challenges: complex families;  balancing work and family

 

Fathers who are growing more committed to their families face ever-increasing demands in the workplace. More families are relying on dad for child care while mom works:

Primary care for children under 5 whose mother works was supplied 20% of the time by dads, and for households where children were 5 to 14, 6.6% of the time.

Total dads involved in primary child care while mom works: 3,385,000.Pre-schoolers in "father care":

	June 1977		14%
	Fall 1986		15%
	Fall 1990		17%
	Fall 1991		20%

Note: while 13,880,000 couples with children under 18 both work for pay, only 5,014,000 both work full-time day-shift jobs.
(Census Bureau report, Child Care Arrangement, Fall 1991, "Who's Minding the Kids?")

There are other challenges which make the fathering picture complex. One in twelve men will be a dad while serving in the military, with the demands that lifestyle can bring. Other complex fathering situations are increasing in number:

Single Primary Care-taker Dads

	1970		  393,000
	1980		  690,000
	1990		1,351,000
	1994		1,556,000
	(Census Bureau data and projections)


Live-in Dads

	1970		  196,000
	1980		  431,000
	1990		  891,000
	1994		1,270,000
	(Statistical Abstract, p. 56, Census Bureau
	data on unmarried couples living with children
	under 15 years old)

Rising expectations for fathers

The National Center for Fathering's Gallup Poll in 1992 found 96.8% of those responding agreed that fathers should be more involved their children's education. 54.1% agreed that "fathers today spend less time with their children than their fathers did with them." Whatever else those numbers mean, they certainly indicate rising expectations and point out the need for improvement.

Bringing home the paycheck is no longer seen as sufficient to fulfill the fathering role. Dads are expected to be more involved and nurturing, both physically and verbally. Some of these expectations are a result of more moms working outside the home, and some come from parents who long to give their children what they missed while growing up. But some of the rising expectations come from within men themselves:they know they can contribute more to their children than what may have seemed "normal" for fathers when they were young. When they do invest in their children, they find great rewards.

Employees link family satisfaction with productivity at work, and many companies are starting to recognize this. At DuPont Corp, a 1995 study concluded "The most striking finding ... is the positive impact that DuPont's work-life programs have had on business results." In their study of 18,000 employees, the company found that the top three reasons employees rejected changes in their duties or promotions were family related. They had refused: relocation, 34%; increased travel, 24%; and overtime or a job with more pressure, 21%.

Various forms of father absence

Fatherlessness is most associated with out-of-wedlock birth and divorce. Those are the two driving forces which have led to the physical absence of dads. 27,341,000 children live apart from their biological fathers. This amounts to 39% of children under 18 in the nation. (1994 Census Bureau data released in 1996)

While joint custody and other arrangements are increasing fathers' involvement after divorce, the effects are still devastating on children. The National Commission on Children's national survey of children and parents (1991) found close to half of children in disrupted families hadn't seen their fathers at all in the past year. Nearly one in five children in female-headed families hadn't seen their fathers in five years. Frank Furstenberg (Divided Families, 1991) said more than one-half of all children who don't live with their father have never been in their father's home.

Another cause of physical absence is incarceration:

Dads in Prison: As of June 1994 there were an estimated 778,761 dads behind bars with children under 18, and an additional 105,500 dads whose only children were over 18. (Bureau of Justice Statistics)

Dads who are physically with their families may nonetheless be emotionally and socially absent:

In two-parent households, fewer than 25% of young boys and girls experience an average of at least one hour a day of relatively individualized contact with their fathers. The average daily amount of one-to-one father/child contact reported in this country is less than 30 minutes. (Henry B. Biller, "The Father Factor and the Two Parent Advantage: Reducing the Paternal Deficit," unpublished paper, 1994)

Almost 20% of 6th - 12th graders have not had a good conversation lasting for at least 10 minutes with at least one of their parents in more than a month. (Peter L. Benson, The Troubled Journey: A Portrait of 6th-12th Grade Youth, Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute, 1993, p. 84)

More -- and younger -- grandfathers