Saturday, July 29, 2006

A Father's Delight

It is sometimes surprising what the government asks Americans to reveal about themselves. And lucky for us demographers, Americans seem willing to tell all. The latest example: A survey taken by the National Center for Education Statistics asks fathers a series of questions to determine how much "delight" they get from their children. And the answer is—a lot.

Called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, the survey's purpose is to test the effects of family, school, community, and individual variables on children's development. Biological fathers living with children born in 2001 were asked about their feelings towards their child, creating indicators of "delight." The results show how involved today's fathers are in child care, both emotionally and physically.

Two-thirds of fathers think it's more fun to get their child something new than to get something for themselves. An equally large percentage of fathers carry pictures of their child with them wherever they go, and 69 percent talk a lot about their child to friends and family. Three out of four fathers always find themselves thinking about their child. Eighty-five percent of fathers think holding and cuddling their child is fun, and 84 percent strongly agree that fatherhood is a highly rewarding experience.

Most fathers strongly agree that they should be as heavily involved as the mother in the care of their child. Seventy-nine percent rate themselves as a "very good" or "better than average" father. Only 2 percent say they have "some trouble" being a father.

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