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Fathers Hugging Children More These Days

National Survey Shows Fathers are Hugging Children More

(June 13, 2002)

UCR Sociologists Say Involved Fathers Set a Good Example

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – As families prepare to honor good ol’ dad this weekend, researchers at the University of California, Riverside are presenting findings on the changing role of fathers in the family.

Scott Coltrane, chair of the Department of Sociology at UCR, is at a workshop on responsible parenting this week, sponsored by the National Council on Family Relations. He said a look at national survey data shows that today’s fathers are more likely to hug their kids and share the everyday tasks of nurturing children and maintaining homes.

“Nine out of ten fathers say they engage in child-centered activities with their school-aged children at least once per week – things like hugging or showing physical affection to them, joking or playing with them, talking with them about their interests, or showing them appreciation,” said Coltrane.

He worked with Michele Adams, a research associate, to analyze data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), Child Development Supplement, a national random sample of 3,563 children and their parents surveyed at the University of Michigan in 1997.

Dads who report that their own fathers were very involved with them when they were growing up are significantly more likely to pass that involvement down to their own children, the sociologists said.

“For example dads with involved fathers are more likely to hug their children and frequently tell them they love them,” said Adams. “These fathers are also more likely to spend time with their children in activities that their children value, to joke and be playful with them, and to participate with them in housework.”

Coltrane said that 93 percent of fathers with school-aged children hug them at least once a week, which is up from 90 percent a decade ago; 60 percent hug them every day; 25 percent hug them several times a week; and 79 percent of fathers tell their children they love them several times a week.

“Men are more likely to play sports or engage in outdoor activities with children than are mothers, but men are now expected to do more with their children,” said Adams. “Other studies have shown that when fathers participate in dish washing, laundry or other household chores, children grow up holding fewer sexist stereotypes and have higher expectations for sharing in their own future relationships.”

Scott Coltrane, Professor of Sociology. Coltrane has written extensively on family dynamics and gender roles. He is the author of Family Man: Fatherhood, Housework and Gender Equity, (Oxford University Press, 1996), named one of the American Library Association’s CHOICE Magazine’s Outstanding Academic Books of 1996. He is also author of Gender and Families, and Sociology of Marriage and the Family: Gender, Love, and Property.
Title: Chair, Department of Sociology and Associate Director of the Center for Family Studies
Office Telephone: (909) 787-3501

Michele Adams, Research Associate. Adams has written about marriage, parenting, and gender equality. She is the author (with Coltrane) of Boys and Men in Families: The Domestic Production of Gender, Power and Privilege, in R. W. Connell, J. Hearn, and M. Kimmel (Eds.), The Handbook of Studies on Men and Masculinities. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage (in press); Work-Family Imagery and Gender Stereotypes: Television and the Reproduction of Difference. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 50, 323-347 (1977); and Men’s Family Work: Child-Centered Fathering and the Sharing of Domestic Labor, pp. 72-99, in Working Families: The Transformation of the American Home, in Rosanna Hertz and Nancy Marshall (eds.). University of California Press (2001).
Title: Research Associate
Office Telephone: (909) 787-5444

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