In a Break Media Panel poll of 323 North American men (margin of error 6 percent), 68 percent said they “get along well” with their fathers and 16 percent said “he’s like my best friend.” Thirteen percent said “we don’t really get along but agree to be civil” and 2 percent responded “we fight like cats and dogs.”
This approximately 4-to-1 ratio was consistent throughout the survey. Around 80-85 percent of the men responded positively to most of the questions about their fathers and about 15-20 percent consistently gave negative responses.
Why sons love their fathers
When asked why they love their fathers, 34 percent responded “he’s my father,” 32 percent said “he’s a good decent man,” 14 percent said “he raised me well” and 8 percent said he is a “good role model.”
At the bottom of the list of reasons why men love their fathers were the attributes “smart,” “funny” and “successful.” When asked about the best traits they inherited from their fathers, “physical appearance,” “compassion,” “confidence,” “bravery” and “athleticism” ranked low. One conclusion: the traits that make men attractive to women are not valued as highly by their offspring.
Ryan McKelley, an assistant professor in the department of psychology at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who researches fatherhood, offered his analysis.
“Those answers are ego-centric,” McKelley said. “Guys, when thinking about their fathers, are thinking about them internally. It’s ‘what you have done for me as a father.’”
Where dads can improve
Thirty-five percent of sons we polled said their dad’s greatest weakness during their childhood was working long hours or being away from home.
Some research shows there is a correlation between quality time and happiness.
A 2010 study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University found that an important predictor of social outcomes for children is how much quality time children spend with their fathers. Sociologist Andre Christie-Mizell discovered that children’s perception of how much time they spend with their fathers has the most impact on whether or not they become bullies.
“The findings about fathers and mothers are important because it turns what most of us think is conventional wisdom — that mothers have the most influence on children — on its ear,” Christie-Mizell said. “What this research shows is that while it’s equally important for kids to spend time with both parents, fathers need to make an extra effort.”
Twenty-four percent of men said their fathers did not communicate well. Sixteen percent said their fathers were angry or lacked self-control. Sixteen percent also had a physical altercation with their fathers and 17 percent have never told their fathers they love them.
Dad is great
In the Made Man survey, there were several areas where dads excelled. Dads received marks of over 50 percent for being “supportive of my personality or interests,” for being happy both during the son’s childhood and today, for being “a source of pride” for their sons and 81 percent of those polled said they respected their fathers “completely” or “quite a bit.”
Eighty-five percent of sons say they love their fathers.
When given a list of nine TV dads to choose from, 22 percent said Archie Bunker of All in the Family best represented their father and 17 percent chose Cliff Huxtable of The Cosby Show, followed by Steve Keaton from Family Ties (12 percent), Hal from Malcolm in the Middle (11 percent), Tony Soprano from The Sopranos (10 percent), Al Bundy from Married…With Children (10 percent), Eric Taylor from Friday Night Lights (9 percent), Homer Simpson from The Simpsons (7 percent) and Sandy Cohen from The O.C. (2 percent).
Yes, Archie Bunker.
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