Relying on new data from fathers in the Fragile Families and Child WellBeing survey (n=2,903), the author examines fathers reports of the most important perceived paternal role among six different domains: providing economic support, direct care, love and affection, protection, discipline, and teaching the child about life. Approximately half of all fathers identified providing love and affection as the most important thing that fathers do. A substantial minority said that teaching the child about life was the key activity; whereas a relatively small proportion said that economic support and direct care were fathers major responsibilities. Controlling for an extensive set of fathers' background characteristics and attitudes and measures of the mother-father relationship, married and cohabiting fathers differ from each other in their perceived importance of financial support; cohabiting fathers are significantly more likely than married fathers to identify this dimension of parenting as the most important one. 35 references, 5 tables. (Author abstract modified)
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