A National Survey of Dads’ Attitudes on Fathering

The questionnaire for this study was designed by Norval Glenn of the University of Texas at Austin and David Popenoe of Rutgers University in consultation with staff members at National Fatherhood Initiative ( http://www.fatherhood.org).

“Ninety-nine percent of the fathers agreed that being a father was a very important part of who they are…”

A summary index of the conditions that the respondents perceived to be obstacles to good fathering revealed substantial differences among the different kinds of fathers. Among those who perceived the greatest obstacles were those not married to the mothers of their “focal child” (the child selected for special attention by the survey), those who did not live with that child, those who had one or more stepchildren, and older fathers in low-income households.

When the respondents were asked which of eight possible sources of help they had drawn upon to be a better father, “wife, partner, or child’s mother” was most frequently chosen (by 89 percent of the respondents), followed by “other fathers or men,” their own mother, and then their own father. About half had received help from a place of worship, and only 29 percent had sought help from a professional person.


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