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Here are some depressing statistics when it comes to fatherhood:

  • 46% of fathers think they spend too little time with their children.
  • Fathers spend an average of 50% less time with their children than the mother.(7 hours per week for the fathers – that is one hour per day… – compared to 14 hours per week for the mothers.)
  • Just 64% of fathers give themselves a rating as doing an excellent or very good job as a parent (for mothers that number is 73%.)

The numbers are taken from a study by Pew Research Center studying the attitudes of American parents.

As you might expect the study also shows that there is a correlation between how high of a grade the fathers give themselves as parents and how many hours they spend with their children. (The parents who think they spend the right amount of time with their children also rate themselves as being good parents.)

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Now here is the good news: The study found that fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965.

And here is the bad news: that just means an increase of 4.5 hours per week over the last 50 years: from 2,5 hours per week (yes, I had to re-read that number a few times to see if I got that right..) to today 7 hours.

But, you might now say, fathers work more and can not be expected to both work hard and parent hard.

Well the study also showed that fathers spent 3 hours more per week than mothers on “leisure activities”, defines as “watching TV, playing games, socializing and exercising”(28 hours vs 25 hours).

Now here is a thought exercise for you:

If the fathers decided to reduce their “leisure activities” by 3 hours per week and trade the “watching, socializing and exercising”  for an additional three hours of “parenting” per week they would essentially increase their “time spent with their children” by almost 50%”.

And maybe, just maybe, that would push the fathers into feeling that they are now spending enough time with their children.

When the 46% of fathers are saying that they spend “too little time with their children” they are basically saying “I have prioritised my leisure activities over my father activities.”

“Leisure” literally means “free time”.

Perhaps the unhappy fathers should reduce the “free time” just a little and exchange it with some “be time” – as in “be a better father’.

Just saying.

Oh, and spending time with your child can be some of the most “free and leisure times” of your life. Like, in the picture above, hanging out on the beach with your daughter.

 

Fredrik Haren

A blog about the magic of fatherhood and paternity leave. Written by Fredrik Haren, professional speaker and author who is now on semi-paternity leave with his three children.

1 comment

Kristina Gow

It is good you write about this! My experience is that many swedish companys say it is an important competence for men who are applying for a job if the dad has been sharing their time with the mum with their children or in a homosexual relationship the dads share the time ! In theese companys they mean it is a merit for men to get a job if he takes the responsibility to be a parent!

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