Magazine article USA TODAY

How Much Time Do Kids Spend with Dad?

Magazine article USA TODAY

How Much Time Do Kids Spend with Dad?

Article excerpt

American children spend an average of 2.5 hours a day with their fathers on weekdays and 6.2 on weekends, according to a University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, study that paints a national portrait of paternal behavior in two-parent, intact families. For about half that time, fathers are directly engaged with their offspring--playing, eating, shopping, watching television with them, or working together around the house. During the rest of the time, dads are nearby and available to their kids if needed.

"Mothers still shoulder the lion's share of the parenting, especially on weekdays." indicates W. Jean Yeung, a sociologist at the university's Institute for Social Research. "But fathers are slowly, but surely, assuming more active roles in their children's lives, especially on weekends." Studies done in the late 1970s found that the average father spent approximately one-third as much time directly engaged with his offspring as the average mother. By the early 1990s, that proportion had jumped to 43%. According to the new study, fathers spend about 65% as much time with children as mothers do on weekdays and around 87% as much time on weekends.

About 40% of the total time fathers are with their kids is spent playing, Yeung and her colleagues found. On weekdays, almost half an hour is devoted to playing, including watching TV, going to movies, and computer and board games, as well as rough-and-tumble indoor and outdoor play. On weekends, fathers average about an hour and 20 minutes playing with their children.

Today's dads do more than just play. They spend about 27 minutes on weekdays and 51 minutes on weekends on the work of parenting--feeding, bathing, changing diapers and clothes, and brushing tangles out of children's hair. In addition, on weekend days, they spend almost half an hour and on weekdays about six minutes taking care of household business with their children--working around the house, shopping, and running errands. …

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