One of the largest studies of its kind gauges top concerns and focuses on the 21st Century father
A comprehensive study sponsored by The Goddard School® for Early Childhood Development and conducted by BluePrint Research Group, shows that fathers are more involved in their children’s lives as decision-makers and caregivers than ever before.
The Goddard School, with the guidance of Dr. Kyle D. Pruett, advisor to The Goddard School and internationally known child psychiatrist and author, sponsored the research in order to learn more about the changing dynamics of the father/child relationship, the areas of concern for fathers and fathers’ involvement in their children’s lives.
“While there’s an abundance of research on mother/child relationships available, there is only a fraction highlighting the father/child relationship and fathers’ roles in the home,” Pruett said. “We felt it was imperative, given the changes in the family in recent generations to look into the importance of fathers in the lives of our nation’s children. And we found some surprises.”
The findings, drawn from a survey of over 1,000 fathers across the United States, revealed a ‘top ten’ of areas in which fathers are most focused on their children’s welfare—notably regardless of income bracket, race or ethnicity. The list, in order of importance, includes:
- Providing basic needs (food, clothing, shelter)
- Providing and maintaining a safe home environment
- Giving financial support
- Ensuring children have a good education
- Teaching children to respect their mothers
- Providing healthcare
- Supporting their children’s mothers
- Telling their children they love them
- Understanding and relating to their to children’s problems
- Spending quality time with their children
“When Dr. Pruett approached us with the idea of conducting this type research on fathers, we immediately agreed because it aligns perfectly with our mission to understand the needs of both parents and children,” said Lisa Fisher, Director of Marketing, Goddard Systems, Inc (franchisor of The Goddard School). “We conduct ongoing research with parents (usually mothers) and children. Our research focus is to help us understand the role our schools play in families’ lives—relationships with teachers, curriculum development, environment and materials. And then, about two years ago, we conducted our first qualitative research with fathers. We saw a growing number of fathers who were involved in the ‘school decision’ and their children’s overall education plan; we knew we needed to be at the forefront of research about fathers.”
In addition to fathers providing good home lives and emotional support to their children, researchers also discovered that providing a good education for their child ranks most important for fathers in terms of being a role model, with three out of four fathers visiting a preschool before enrolling their child.
“Since we opened our doors, almost 25 years ago, the role of fathers in choosing a preschool for their children has changed—we’ve seen and heard this anecdotally from school owners and education directors,” adds Fisher. “While fathers have always been involved in our schools, the level of involvement seems to have shifted—and this is supported by the new research. Today’s fathers want to learn more about their child’s program, experience the overall environment and to understand what their child will be learning—before they commit to enrollment.”
Pruett attributes the influx of a father’s involvement in the preschool enrollment process to their desire and need to feel that they are making a financially sound decision—a good investment into their child’s future. “This is one of the largest U.S. studies of fathers and fathering values that cuts across income brackets, races and ethnicity in order to be complete and balanced,” said Pruett.
Pruett said the researchers surveyed fathers from diverse demographic groups to ensure the broadest possible understanding of how American fathers perceive their roles in their families and particularly their children’s lives.