President Barack Obama greets guests, including fathers and their children participants in the Becoming a Man (BAM) program at Hyde Park Academy in Chicago, June 14, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, where the president hosted a Father’s Day luncheon. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
by Jennifer Agiesta
A recent Associated Press-WE tv poll found more than 8 in 10 men said they have always wanted to be fathers or think they’d like to be one someday.
Debates about the different ways women approach motherhood dominate news coverage about parenthood these days, with fathers’ experiences often left unexamined.
A look at what the poll found on how men view fatherhood, and the changes it has brought for those who have become dads:
BECOMING A DAD
About 8 in 10 fathers surveyed said they always knew they wanted to have children, compared with about 7 in 10 mothers, and 69 percent of dads called that long-standing desire to have children an important factor in their decision to have kids.
Dads were more likely than moms in the poll to say they saw positive effects from fatherhood on their love life and career, and they are just as likely as moms to say it improved their overall happiness, sense of accomplishment and sense of purpose.
When weighing whether to become a parent, mothers and fathers placed similar levels of importance on where they stood in their career and the impact having kids might have on their social life, and like mothers, saw having found the right person to have a child with and the joy of having children as the most important considerations.
ASPIRING TO FATHERHOOD
Men who do not have children were just as likely as women without kids to say they want them someday. Among men under age 35, 91 percent are dads already or say they think they would like to have children someday.
Men were more likely than women to say the main reason they’d like to become fathers someday is to carry on traditions or family history. According to the poll, 14 percent of men called that a top reason compared with 4 percent of women. Women place greater emphasis on wanting to be a parent, to care for and raise a child — 22 percent among women who want children compared with 2 percent among men.
MARRIED, WITH KIDS
Three-quarters of dads said they were married when their first child was born. Among those men who aren’t married and who would like to have children, about one-quarter say they would consider having or adopting a child without a partner, though 88 percent within this group say they do want to get married someday.
Men are a bit more skeptical than women that a single mother can do as good a job raising a child as two parents can, and men are more likely to say an increase in the number of single mothers is bad for society. Still, about half of men in the survey said the growing variety in family arrangements these days ultimately doesn’t make much difference.
The AP-WE tv poll was conducted May 15-23, 2013, using KnowledgePanel, GfK’s probability-based online panel. It involved online interviews with 1,277 people age 18-49, including interviews with 637 men. The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for all respondents; it is larger for subgroups.
KnowledgePanel is constructed using traditional telephone and mail sampling methods to randomly recruit respondents. People selected who had no Internet access were given it for free.