The American Prospect
There is a widespread belief that poor men make bad fathers because they can’t or won’t support their families and are often absent from their children’s lives. The perception of the deadbeat, uninvolved dad has been fueled by national statistics about the rates of marriage, cohabitation, employment, and child-support payments among poor men. These national findings, however, depict averages and do not reveal the personal struggles of low-income fathers and the individual stories behind the statistics. A burgeoning body of social science research on how poor men engage with their children presents a much more nuanced story. This research finds that many poor men are very much involved in their children’s lives, including reading and playing—activities that help children gain the social and cognitive skills they need to do well in school and beyond—and that more fathers want to be more engaged with their kids. (Author abstract)
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