A federal survey of American parents shows that Black fathers who live with their children are just as involved as other dads — or more so. The report also revealed that among American fathers living apart from their children, Black dads were equally or more involved than other dads, according to most measures.
The report was based on a federal survey that included more than 3,900 fathers between 2006 and 2010 — a trove of data seen as the gold standard for studying fatherhood in the United States.
For instance, among fathers who lived with young children, 70% of Black dads said they bathed, diapered or dressed those kids every day, compared with 60% of White fathers and 45% of Latino fathers.
Nearly 35% of Black fathers who lived with their young children said they read to them daily, compared with 30% of White dads and 22% of Latino dads.
Worry about Black fathers has been tied to a persistent fact: Black dads are especially likely to live apart from one or more of their children — and fathers of all races tend to be less involved in the day-to-day lives of their kids when they live elsewhere.
Yet the report also revealed that among American fathers living apart from their children, Black dads were at least as involved as other dads not living with their kids, or more so, according to most measures. Among fathers living apart from older children, more than half of Black fathers said that several times a week or more, they talked to their kids about their day — a higher percentage than among white or Latino dads living separately from older children, the report showed.
Nearly half of Black fathers living apart from their young children said they played with them at least several times a week, 42% said they fed or ate with them that frequently, and 41% said they bathed, diapered or helped dress them as often — rates on par with or higher than those of other men living apart from their kids.
Earlier research has shown that after parents break up, fathers become less involved as time passes. Mothers may curb the time they allow an ex to spend with their children. Fathers sometimes struggle to stay as involved if they form another family.
However, Laura Tach and fellow researchers also found that Black fathers were more likely than White or Latino dads to stay close to their children after having more kids with a new partner. Because it isn’t as rare for Black fathers to live away from the home, their communities might have stronger expectations that fathers will stay involved outside the “package deal” of a wife and kids, explained Tach, a professor of policy analysis at Cornell University.
“Some men think when they lose a marriage, they lose the relationship with the kids,” said Marquette University sociology professor Roberta L. Coles. “For Black men that doesn’t seem to be as true.”
In many cases, the differences between Black fathers and those of other races were not statistically significant, researchers said.