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Report: Pandemic Brings Fathers and Children Closer

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In a new Harvard Graduate School of Education study, more than half of fathers report they're getting to know their children better. (digitalskillet1/Adobe Stock)
In a new Harvard Graduate School of Education study, more than half of fathers report they're getting to know their children better. (digitalskillet1/Adobe Stock)
 By Lily Bohlke - Producer, Contact
September 17, 2020

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- As families deal with the stresses of working and parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Harvard Graduate School of Education study finds almost 70% of fathers across the country are feeling closer to their children.

Even though gender roles in parenting have changed substantially in the last 50 years, mothers still are more likely to carry more of the child-raising load, and half of all children spend some time living in single-parent households, often with their moms.

Rick Weissbourd, director of Harvard's Making Caring Common project, said the growing closeness with fathers is a silver lining amid the difficulties of the pandemic.

"It was very moving," Weissbourd said. "You know, we heard about fathers getting to know their kids, telling their kids more about their own lives, finding activities to do with their kids that they both enjoy that they hadn't discovered."

While this report focuses on dads in particular, Weissbourd said their team intends to dig deeper into how the pandemic is affecting relationships among families with varying structures, gender identities and sexual orientations.

According to the report, children with available fathers can benefit from close relationships with their dads. It can strengthen cognitive and emotional development, and increase their chances of success academically and in their careers.

And Weissbourd said it can be gratifying for the fathers.

"I hope that this just doesn't just evaporate once the pandemic is over and that fathers and kids develop, you know, habits and routines that they maintain, long after the pandemic," Weissbourd added,

Weissbourd encouraged setting up some of these routines now, while many families are still at home, whether it's going for walks, cooking dinner together, playing games or going out for ice cream.

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