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The changing roles of fathers

Fewer Pennsylvania fathers may be the sole breadwinner in the family compared to the past, but fathers are spending more time on child care according to a 2015 survey by Pew Research Group. In 1970, the father was the breadwinner in almost half of couples with children, but by 2015, that number had dropped to just over one-quarter. However, fathers in 2015 reported devoting seven hours per week to child care, and this was three times as much as 1965.

More than half of both mothers and fathers said parenting was an important part of their identity. Nearly as many parents also said they found parenting rewarding all of the time. However, both mothers and fathers also said they struggled in balancing family and work. About half of both mothers and fathers also reported wanting to be stay-at-home parents but being unable to afford it.

Although most survey respondents said that they thought it was best for children to have one stay-at-home parent, almost half also said they thought that person should be the mother. Another half said both mothers and fathers were equally qualified for the role of stay-at-home parent. Most respondents also believed it was important for both parents to bond with a new baby, and around 45 percent said both parents were equally qualified to care for an infant.

When parents go through a divorce, if there is a custody dispute, how much time each parent has spent in caregiving may be significant. However, parents might want to try negotiating a child custody and visitation arrangement instead of going through litigation. Negotiations may take less time and be less expensive than litigation, and they may also create a less adversarial atmosphere which can be better for the child as well.

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