Today's Dads Are More Involved with Kids

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The percentage of fathers who live with all their children has fallen significantly over 50 years, but those at-home dads ?about three fathers out of every four ?are spending far more time with the kids than did their counterparts of decades ago,  according to a new analysis.

The Pew researchers noted that, according to U.S. Census figures, only 11 percent of children younger than 18 in the United States were living apart from their fathers in 1960, compared with 27 percent in 2010. The percentage of children living apart from their mothers doubled over the same time span but remained comparatively modest: 8 percent in 2010.

Pew also reported that fathers who do live with their children are spending more time with them and taking part in a greater variety of activities with them. The amount of time that married fathers spent with children living in their household rose from an average of 2.6 hours per week in 1965 to 6.5 hours per week in 2000, the Pew researchers noted, referencing statistics from "Changing Rhythms of American Family Life," (Russell Sage Foundation, 2007). [5 Ways to Foster Self-Compassion in Your Child]

The analysis of the U.S. health department's family-growth survey was paired with a new Pew Research survey of attitudes toward fatherhood, which showed that 69 percent of the public believe that having a father in the home is essential to a child’s happiness. In that survey, which was conducted by telephone May 26-29 and June 2-5 among a nationally representative sample of 2,006 adults living in the United States, 63 percent of fathers said that being a dad is harder today than it was a generation ago.

As for how well they're doing as parents, 47 percent of fathers believed they’re doing a better job than their own dad did, while only 3 percent said they're doing a worse job.

Among fathers who live with their children at least part of the time, 44 percent said they are doing a "very good" job as fathers to those children, and another 44 percent said they are doing a "good" job.

Fathers who do not live with their children rated themselves more negatively ? 51 percent said they were not doing a good job as fathers to those children. Still, 19 percent thought they are doing a "very good" job, and 30 percent said they are doing a "good" job.

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Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.