Dads involved with kids, myth-busting survey says

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CHICAGO -- The detached dad, turning up his nose at diapering and too busy to bathe, dress and play with his kids, is mostly a myth, a federal survey suggests. Researchers found most U.S. fathers say they are heavily involved in hands-on parenting.

The nationally representative survey shows fathers' involvement has increased slightly since the government first asked in 2002, coinciding with research since then that bolsters benefits of hands-on fathering.

The results are encouraging and important "because others have found the more involved dads are, the better the outcomes for their children," said researcher Jo Jones of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. She co-authored today's report.

More academic success, fewer behavior problems and healthier eating habits are some of the ways fathers' involvement has been tied with children's well-being.

The study involved nearly 4,000 fathers aged 15 to 44 interviewed in person between 2006 and 2010.

One caveat: They self-reported their involvement, without partners' or others' input. Most were married or living with a partner. Almost 90 percent of dads thought they were doing at least a good job of fathering.

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