Australia: Aussie Fathers “Doing a Good Job”

A new report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that Australian men in couple families do around 30% of the household chores and around 64% feel that they have missed out on family life because of work commitments. Despite this, the study found that fathers make an important contribution to family life and make a big difference to their children’s lives.

On the eve of the centenary of International Women’s Day, the Australian Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, commented on the publication from the Australian Institute of Family Studies:

“We know that fathers play a vital part in their families and their role as parents has a major impact in the development their children’s health and wellbeing.

“We also know that many fathers want to play a greater role in the family.

“There is no doubt that we need to do more, as government, business and as a community, to give both genders the flexibility they need to achieve a fairer balance of caring and domestic duties.”

The report also found that there was no significant difference between the capabilities of biological fathers and step fathers. There was also a negligible difference between the fathering styles of those who were married compared with co-habiting partners.

Fathers who have children living elsewhere “do seem to face some constraints in fathering that are not apparent for those who do not have children living elsewhere”.

The overall conclusion of the report is as follows:

The report confirms that Australian fathers play a vital role in their families. This role was sometimes different but complementary to the role of mothers. Fathers made a major contribution to the family income, they were supportive of their partners, they participated in unpaid work within the home (albeit at lower levels than mothers), they spent time with children (again, this was lower than mothers) and they were generally parenting well and felt they were doing a good job in their fathering role. Many of these qualities were linked…

…Fathers’ working arrangements, their mental health and the quality of relationships between partners appeared to be particularly salient influences.

Finally, clear‑cut effects of fathering on children’s socio‑emotional and learning outcomes were found, even after taking into account the contribution of mothers. We conclude that fathering ‘matters’ for children and families and there are tangible benefits to be gained from fostering fathers’ involvement in their families.

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