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Almost half of Americans think fathers do a poor job parenting

Missouri families know that raising a child is not easy. From the moment a child is born, parents are responsible for meeting the child's needs through their care and parenting.

A father has an enormous impact on a child's life. A study by the Pew Research Center, however, found that 47 percent of Americans now think that fathers in general are doing a worse job at parenting than their own fathers. Issues such as paternity, child custody and child support may be part of the reason why today's generation of fathers is not as highly regarded as previous generations.

Factors such as daily interruptions and distractions from technology, along with peer pressure on children and other influences, may be hindering fathers from being good parents. Today's generations of both parents and children are so attached to technology that they may have little real sense of person-to-person communication.

The Pew study found that smartphones, cell phones, video games and social networking applications compete with fathers for the attention of their children and may limit how much real bonding fathers have with them.

The study emphasized the reality that it is personal bonding that helps fathers teach their children moral values and lessons and ways to behave in society. It also helps make discipline more effective.

With less personal involvement in their children's lives, some fathers have trouble meeting their responsibilities toward their children and being involved in their lives.

Many fathers may want to assert this kind of close relationship with their children but find themselves facing challenges from the other parent, especially if paternity is in dispute and the couple is not living together. A father can establish his legal relationship through DNA testing and may receive custody and visitation rights as a result, but he may also be required to pay financial support. An experienced parental rights attorney can help either parent determine how best to proceed in this type of situation.

Source: The Statesman, "Generations apart: Exploring the challenges society places on fatherhood," Lauren Wilson, Nov. 29, 2012

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