Everybody knows that baseball is "stats happy." Beyond comparing Batting Averages (BA), Stolen Bases (SB), Hit By Pitch (HPB), and Earned Run Average (ERA) and Blown Saves (BS) for pitchers, denizens of the diamond provide an ever-expanding field of acronyms that any bureaucrat can be proud of.Baseball now measures hitters' prowess with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP), their ability to move a runner to the next base –Runners Moved Up (RMU), On Base Percentage (OBP), the number of GWHs – Game Winning Hits – and the stat all teams dread, LOB – runners Left on Base.
True to this blog, how about some stats measuring the evolving state of American fatherhood? It is changing, after all. An earlier post referenced the 2010 Census, which showed that single-father-headed households with children increased 27% in the decade from 2000 to 2010. Over two-and-a-half million single parents today are single fathers. And the number of stay-at-home dads is rising with them – a nearly 60% increase between 2003 and 2008.
That's a strong AHP – At Home Percentage – for fathers. But it also reflects a broader rise in fathers' TWK – Time With Kids. This positive trend was borne out by Newsweek's Julia Baird, who reported in a column that "Millenial fathers – those under 29 – spend an average of 4.3 hours per workday with their kids, which is almost double that of their counterparts in 1977."In addition to swelling AHP and TWK counts, social scientists are also measuring increases in dads' SPI – School Participation Index. A survey by the National Center for Fathering and the National Parent Teacher Association found that the percentage of fathers who bring their child to school increased 16 percent in the past ten years, while 11 percent more attend classroom events and visit their child's classroom, and 8 percent more attend parent teacher conferences.
This suggests a rise in another general category – DPA, or Dad Point Average.Finally, there's the all-telling HPD – Hugs Per Day. Lisa Belkin of the New York Times cited a study that found that four out of five dads who responded "show more physical affection to their children than their parents did with them." A startling statistic from that study was that "fathers hug and kiss their children an average of five times a day." Wow! That HPD rating is exactly five more than my father ever logged.
These ascending stats are not surprising as more dads leave the workforce for the nursery, dads are doing more childcare and housework in general, and many fathers are feeling as torn over balancing work and family as mothers are. Unfortunately, not every statistic involving dads is on the upswing, however. Let's look at a few of the most important ones, many of them from the web site of the National Fatherhood Initiative.LWF – Living Without Fathers
More than 24 million children are currently growing up in this country without a father at home – making us the world leader in this distressing category. Numerous studies show that a high LWF leads to a glut of other social problems, such as:CAD – Crimes per Absent Dad
A study of 13,986 women in prison revealed that more than half grew up without their father. Another showed that even after controlling for income, youths in father-absent households still had significantly higher odds of incarceration than those in mother-father families. Youths who never had a father in the household experienced the highest odds of serving time behind bars.
DIDU – Dad-Induced Drug UseNumerous studies show that kids are far more at risk of substance abuse without a highly involved father. Each unit increase in father involvement is associated with 1% reduction in substance use. In other words, as a father's AHP increases, the child's DIDU decreases.
MMO – Missed Mentoring OpportunityBoys from fatherless families reported higher rates of drinking and smoking as well as higher scores on delinquency and aggression tests when compared to boys from two-parent households. For girls, being raised without a father increased the risk of teen pregnancy, marrying with less than a high school degree, and forming a marriage where both partners have less than a high school degree.
SLI – Shitty Life IndexThe U.S. Census Bureau reports that children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. Children who live apart from their fathers are more likely to be diagnosed with asthma and experience an asthma-related emergency even after taking into account demographic and socioeconomic conditions. Figures for obesity are similar.
DPD – Dropouts per DadA study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concludes simply: "Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school."
The picture is clear. A father's low AHP and TWK leads to rising CAD, DIDU, SLI and DPD for kids. So let's work on lowering that LWF and getting the DPA back up. One suggestion: keep upping those HPDs.