Men Women and the Family - Men's Changing Role
fathers children age raising
In a "Facts for Features" press release for Father's Day 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau provided a profile of contemporary fathers. Of the 25.8 million fathers who were part of a married-couple family with its own children under age eighteen:
- 12% were under age thirty; 4% were over age fifty-five.
- 22% were raising three or more children under age eighteen.
- 9% were raising infants under age one.
- 61% had an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
Of the two million single fathers with their own children under age eighteen:
- 22% were under age thirty; 5% were over age fifty-five.
- 10% were raising three of more children under age eighteen.
- 1% were raising infants under age one.
- 24% had an annual family income of $50,000 or more.
- 45% were divorced; 34% had never been married; 17% were married but the spouse was absent; 4% were widowed.
The Future of Fatherhood
Researchers believe that more changes would occur in the roles of men and women in the twenty-first century. If mothers of young children continue to join the labor
force, fathers might have to assume more child-care tasks. Researchers asked whether modern fathers would accept an increasing share of child-rearing responsibilities or flee from them. One indicator of fathers' interest in their child-rearing role was the increase in single fathers raising their own children. According to Census
Bureau data, in 1970 only one in ten single parents was a father; by 2004 the share of single fathers had increased to one in six.
A bigger issue concerned the role and/or the commitment of noncustodial fathers in divorced families and fathers of children born out-of-wedlock. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the number of children growing up in homes without fathers increased dramatically from 1960. By 2000 nearly twenty-five million children did not live with their fathers, compared to fewer than ten million in 1960. More than one-third of these children did not see their fathers at all during the course of a year.
On the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI) Web site, Roland Warren, NFI's president, stated that violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers (72% of adolescent murderers and 70% of long-term prison inmates). Warren also noted that children living in homes without a father are "more likely to experience poverty; be suspended from school, or to drop out; be treated for an emotional or behavioral problem; commit suicide as adolescents; and be victims of child abuse or neglect." The Fatherhood Initiative sought to increase public awareness of the importance of fathers in children's lives, promote a national public agenda of policies supportive of families and fathers, and provide resources to help men be better fathers.