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Questionnaire on Daily Life of Children in Japan II Chapter Three: Father's Involvement

1. 1 Level of Father's Involvement

The father's involvement is extremely important to a child's development. In this chapter we will take a look at the section of the report examining the father's involvement with the child. As we look at fathers' direct involvement in child rearing and housework, we will also examine fathers' moral support of the mother in child rearing. We will specifically look at the following three topics: moral support in child rearing, participation in child rearing and participation in housework. Moral support in child rearing refers to supporting the mother in a mental/moral manner through such activities as listening to and consulting with the mother about child rearing. Participation in child rearing refers to such concrete child-rearing activities as playing with the child or putting the child to bed. Participation in housework refers to involvement with daily housework such as shopping or cleaning. Four levels of responses were offered. 97% of all responses were from the mother. Responses from the father himself accounted for only 1% of total responses.

Involvement Through Mental/Moral Support is High, Participation in Housework is Low (Fig. 3-1, 3-2, 3-3)
Taking a look at mental/moral support in child rearing (Fig. 3-1), we see that mothers tend to give high marks to fathers in this area. Mothers that responded affirmatively (choosing either very supportive or supportive) accounted for 50% or more of respondents across all categories. Fathers give much support by talking about and giving advice on such matters as how the child fared during the day, giving advice on child-rearing concerns and empathizing with thoughts on raising children. However, 40% of mothers responded negatively (choosing either rarely supportive or never supportive) to the statement that the father gives enough consideration to dispel the stress of rearing a child. We see there is tendency toward little concrete support that would help ameliorate the stress of child rearing.

Next, looking at participation in child rearing (Fig. 3-2), we see a diverse set of answers for some items. The father's most frequent participation is in scolding/praising the child. 40.4% of fathers participate in this duty almost every day and the percentages increase to 63.1% when including fathers participating in 3-5 times a week. It is clear that many fathers are involved in the child's discipline through scolding and praising the child. On the other hand, fathers who participate in these activities only 1-2 times a week or almost never account for 33.3% of responses so there are some fathers that leave discipline up to the mother.

The least frequent activity is playing with the child outside. As we would expect, many fathers use their Saturdays, Sundays and holidays to play with their child outside. While 40.8% of fathers play with their child inside 3-5 times a week or more, over 50% play with their child inside 1-2 days a week or less. We see a wide divergence of answers. 48.5% of fathers almost never put their child to bed. Although the reasons for this no doubt include returning home late and only being home for a short period of time, compared to the percentages of fathers that give their child a bath and play indoors with the child, the percentage is quite low. We see that even if the father has returned home, they leave it to the mother to put the child to bed.

What about participation in housework? Looking at Fig. 3-3, overall we see very low participation rates compared to the previous items of mental/moral support and participation in child rearing. Is it more difficult for the father to be involved in housework compared with offering the mother mental/moral support or rearing the child? The activity with the least father participation is cleaning. 70.5% of fathers almost never participate in this activity. 66.6% of fathers almost never participate in cleaning up after meals. The activity most participated in by fathers is putting out the trash. 27.1% of fathers do this all the time. The rate increases to 44.1% when this includes fathers doing this at least some of the time. We imagine that this is one bit of physical labor that the father does before leaving for work. However 40.3% of fathers never put out the trash. The overall percentage of fathers doing the shopping was also low, but it is characteristic that about half said they do this 1-2 times a week. There are probably many families that go out shopping as a family on Saturday and Sunday.


2. Comparison of Father's Involvement by Attribute

Up to this point we have looked at the father's involvement in the three areas of mental/moral support in child rearing, child-rearing participation and participation in housework. Next we will take a look at the father's involvement by region, child's age and mother's employment status.

In the following analysis we will look at the father's involvement, scored from 1 to 4, and examine the averages for each of the three areas.

There is almost no difference by region (Fig. 3-4)
Fig. 3-4 is a compilation of data allowing us to see if there is any difference in the father's involvement by region. We see that there are no major differences by region. In the area of participation in housework in particular we see the exact same average in each region. In the areas of mental/moral support and participation in child rearing, fathers in Oita showed a slightly higher level of involvement, however we can conclude that regional factors make little difference in the father's involvement.

The Older a Child Becomes, the Less the Father's Involvement in Child Rearing/Housework (Fig. 3-5)
Fig. 3-5 is a comparison of the father's involvement by age of the child. One result was consistent overall: regardless of age, there was the relatively strong trend toward mental/moral support. Furthermore, fathers scored higher in child-rearing participation than in housework participation.

Let's take a look at each category. We see that mental/moral support did not really change by age of the child. However, the older a child becomes, the lower the score for participation in child rearing and housework. This is statistically significant. There were particular differences between the ages of 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 in the scoring for child-rearing participation, and between the ages of 1, 5 and 6 in the scoring for housework. We can conclude that the older the child, the less the involvement of the father in child rearing and housework.

Involvement is Greater with a Full-Time Working Mother and Less with a Part-Time Working Mother (Fig. 3-6)
What sorts of differences are there in the father's involvement by the mother's employment situation? This comparison is the subject of Fig. 3-6. We see the greatest involvement by the father in mental/moral support, child rearing and housework in households where the mother works full-time. Conversely, involvement by the father in all three areas is low in those families where the mother works part-time. The father's participation in child rearing and housework is as low as those families in which the mother is a full-time homemaker. This result implies that mothers who are employed part-time shoulder a large share of child rearing and housework. Due to the wide variety of types of part-time work we cannot make any generalizations, but it appears that in addition to her job, the mother carries the greater part of the child raising and housework responsibilities.


3. Desire for Father's Involvement

What do mothers think about the current level of the father's involvement? We asked mothers to indicate the level of their desire for more father involvement from four responses ranging from very much to not at all to the questions: do you want the father to participate more in child rearing, and do you want the father to participate more in housework? Following are the results.

More Involvement Wanted, Particularly in Child Rearing (Fig. 3-7, 3-8)
Let's first take a look at participation in child rearing. Do mothers want more involvement by fathers? The results when we asked mothers this question are seen in Fig. 3-7. Overall, 77.8% of mothers responded either very much so or I suppose so indicating a strong desire for involvement by the father. We took a further look at a comparison in which father's involvement was divided into two groups, a group with a high level of participation in child rearing and a group with a low level. 37.5% of mother in the group with low father participation responded very much so, indicating a strong desire to have the father become more involved with the child. On the other hand, 22.4% of mothers in the group with high father participation responded very much so and 25.0% responded not really or definitely not, indicating less of a desire for the father's involvement than the group with low father participation. The group with a high level of father involvement seems to be somewhat highly satisfied with the status quo.

Looking at the desire for the father to participate in housework (Fig. 3-8), we see that 60% and more responded in the affirmative that they would like the father to participate more in housework very much or somewhat. Looking at responses by the current level of participation, we see a slightly higher level of mothers in the group with a low level of father participation wanting more participation. Compared with the results of child rearing in which these mothers want a greater degree of father's participation, the difference is not so significant.

Comparing the desire for the father's participation in child rearing and housework, we see that overall there is a greater desire for the father's participation in child rearing. As seen in Fig. 3-2 and 3-3, in fact there is greater involvement by the father in child rearing than in housework. One would expect that there would be a greater desire for participation in housework, in which there is currently less involvement. But the results of the report show this is not the case. Actual involvement by the father is greater in child rearing and this is also the area with the strongest desire by the mother for the father's involvement. Perhaps this indicates that both the father and mother feel that in terms of the father's role in the family, the father and mother should both participate in child rearing while the mother should be responsible for housework.


4. Father's Involvement and Mother's Child-Rearing Anxiety

Are the child-rearing anxiety we saw in this chapter related to the father's involvement? Let's take a look at father's involvement and mother's anxiety.

Greater Involvement by the Father Decreases the Mother's Child-Rearing Anxiety (Fig. 3-9)
In this section we analyzed child-rearing anxiety regarding a wide variety of ten items. We reversed the result of five items with affirmative feelings on child rearing and added them to five items about anxiety. Each item had four levels of responses for a total of 40 possible points. The higher the total points, the stronger the anxiety about child rearing. The average point total was 21.4.

We divided the analysis into two groups, one with a high level of father participation in mental/moral support, child rearing and housework, and the other with a low level of participation in these areas. Fig. 3-9 compares the point totals for the two groups in the area of child-rearing anxiety.

We see that across all categories, the group with a high level of father involvement showed lower point totals for the mother's child-rearing anxiety. The statistical difference was significant. The difference was particularly striking in the area of mental/moral support. Even in the area of participation in housework, which has little direct connection with the child, there was a difference in the level of the mother's child-rearing anxiety.

Through these results we see that the father's involvement has meaning not only for the child, but also for the mother with small children, that father's mental/moral support is important as well as support through his actions, and that a father's actions have meaning not only in his involvement with the child, but also in all areas of the family such as participation in housework.
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