News & Politics

63% of U.S. Dads Say They Don't Spend Enough Time With Their Kids, Study Finds

American fathers say they don’t spend enough time with their kids, a new study by the Pew Research Center has found. Nearly 63 percent of fathers report they spend “too little” time with their children — and they overwhelmingly cite work obligations and a lack of custody as the primary reasons why.

The study also found that one-in-four fathers don’t live with their children, with large differences appearing when sorted by race/ethnicity: 47 percent of black fathers reported not having primary custody of their children, and 26 percent of Hispanic fathers reported the same.

Education is strongly linked to the ability to be an active father, the Pew Research Center reports. Fathers who graduated from college have a special advantage in this: only about eight percent of dads who finished college live apart from their kids. Meanwhile, nearly 30 percent of fathers without a college degree don’t have custody.

Not surprisingly, women were 28 percentage points less likely to report they get “too little” time with their kids. A full 12 percent of women said they get “too much.”

Mothers were also much less likely to cite the demands of work as a barrier to seeing their kids, likely due to the fact that mothers are more likely to work part-time and have more flexible schedules.

This dad-deprivation is worrisome to Warren Farrell, an American author who has written numerous books on gender issues, including The Myth of Male Power and the forthcoming The Boy Crisis (March 2018, BenBella Books). Farrell has been researching the issues facing boys and fathers for more than 30 years, and says the results of the Pew Research Center survey come as no surprise.

“A few years ago, Pew asked and discovered that 49% of dads who worked full time said they would prefer to be with their children full time, but felt their family needed the money,” Farrell told PJ Media. “Around the world, fathers fight to be with their children, even when they have to keep paying child support.”

Farrell sees the lack of a father’s involvement as a driving factor in why so many young men are struggling. Boys raised without a father living in the house are less likely to graduate high school, less likely to go to college, more likely to be underemployed, and ultimately less likely to get a job that will help them provide for their future family. These boys who grow up without dads have a much harder time fulfilling the live-in provider role in the future — a vicious cycle.

Of course, both girls and boys are negatively impacted by not having their fathers at home. But Farrell argues that it is especially troubling for boys, who have already started falling behind their female counterparts in school, in the labor force, and in the marriage market.

To fix this, Farrell argues that shared parenting after divorce should become the norm rather than the exception.

Unmarried women under the age of 30 also might want to be cautious, he notes, explaining that these women, if they have kids, “are much less likely to have significant father involvement — or any father involvement — after two years.”

“We need to educate our schools and our parents that freedom of choice is wonderful unless it conflicts with our primary choice, the choice to create a child. When we choose to create a child, freedom takes a back seat to our commitment to raise healthy girls, and boys who are worthy of our daughters’ love,” he tells PJ Media.

The results of the Pew Research Center study were based off a survey of 4,573 parents in August and September of 2017. You can read the full study here.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen