More Fathers Living Apart from Kids

| by Denise A Justin

Since 1960 the number of fathers who report living apart from at least one child under 18 years of age has almost doubled and is now at 27 percent, according to a just-released Pew Research Center report. And, almost one-half of dads under 45 in America say they have at least one child born out of wedlock.

The study also found that married fathers are devoting more time to their children, according to Hope Yen of the Associated Press. Fathers living with their children devote an average of 6.5 hours a week to child care, up from only 2.6 hours a week in 1960. This is still about one-half the time married mothers spend parenting. But, in the 1960’s fathers only devoted one-fourth the time mothers did.

Not surprisingly, the findings show that college-educated men, who have higher earnings, are more likely to marry and spend more time with their children, while those with lesser skills are working a lot harder and longer to just survive in today's economy. Beth Latham, Assistant Sociology Professor at Appalachian State University points out that “When a father can’t provide monetarily for his offspring, he often becomes estranged.” This is one of the reasons, “…many women now raise children outside of marriage or without a father figure,” she adds.

The latest census data show that marriages have fallen to a record low, with less than 50 percent of households made up by married couples for the first time. Sociologists report that younger people increasingly are choosing to just live together rather than tying the knot.

What do these trends mean to future generations? How much does marriage matter to a child’s outlook on the future and on his or her own self worth?

Source: LA Daily News, June 16, 2011,