Dads Want “A Day with Family” for Father’s Day, Followed by Electronics

Americans are most likely to perceive their fathers as Smart and Responsible

01:00 PM EDT Jun 17, 2015 Rating
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Dads Want “A Day with Family” for Father’s Day, Followed by Electronics

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Every June, Americans set aside a Sunday to celebrate the men who helped  shape their lives.  But a father can be many things.  For some he’s Mr. Fix-it, the handyman who took care of the overflowing toilet when they learned the hard way that teddy bears can’t be flushed.  Other fathers are of the nerdy variety, fun to play video games with, but maybe not the right man to ask for dating advice.  Fathers come in all shapes and sizes, and what they want for Father’s Day – as well as what they may be getting this year – can vary as well.  

father son gaming

When asked what they would like to receive for Father’s Day, the majority of dads simply want a day with family (57%). 

A day with the family remains the number one choice regardless of whether dads have kids under the same roof as them or not (61% & 53%, respectively). 

Nearly two fifths have their fingers crossed in hopes of receiving electronics/gadgets(37%), a gift certificate (37%), or a home cooked meal (36%).  Meanwhile around a third are hoping for pictures of their children/grandchildren (34%), a home-made card (32%), tools/power tools (31%), cooking equipment (28%), or sports equipment (28%).  And in case you were eying jewelry or a tie for your dad, know that less than one in ten fathers are hoping to get either (9% and 7%, respectively) for Father’s Day.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online and in English between May 20 and 26, 2015.

Maybe you can get what you want

Of those respondents planning to give gifts this Father’s Day, over a third will be handing out a gift certificate (37%) or offering up a plan for a day with family (36%). Around three in ten will be preparing a home cooked meal (30%) or gift-wrapping tools/power tools (28%). Meanwhile, one fifth of adults will be giving dads pictures of their children/grandchildren (22%), electronics/gadgets (20%), and hand-made cards (20%).

There are many things in life about which men and women disagree, and what they are planning to give their fathers is no exception. Men are most likely to give gift certificates (39%) this father’s day, while daddy’s little girls are most likely to either prepare a home cooked meal or offer up a day with family (37% each).

 

“One father is more than a hundred schoolmasters.”  — George Herbert   

Father’s Day isn’t just about gift giving or appreciating what our fathers have done for us; it’s also about reflecting on what we have learned from them over the years. 

 Majorities also credit their dads with teaching them how to be a good person (64%) and how to drive (54%).  Meanwhile, half learned financial responsibility (51%).  Strong minorities say they learned car maintenance (40%), self-confidence (39%), and good sportsmanship (37%) from their fathers. Among the 81% who say they learned something from their dads, over three-quarters say their father taught them to have a strong work ethic (76%).

Moreover, when asked to specify which lesson meant the most, how to be a good person (35%) and a strong work ethic (31%) were the top selections by a wide margin, with financial responsibility – the third most frequent selection – singled out by only 9%. 

 

“When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.”  — Mark Twain

After looking at what Americans have learned from their fathers, perhaps it’s not much of a surprise that around two-thirds of Americans say that as children they thought of their dads as smart (68%) and responsible (65%).  

Over half each believed their dads to be handy (59%), funny (54%), and a role model (53%), while two fifths have always perceived them as sentimental (40%) and cool (37%). 

At the bottom of the list are two traits fathers are rarely ever labeled with, and unfortunately one of them is fashionable.  But dads, don’t feel too sad that only 21% of Americans believed their fathers to be fashionable when they were children.  It could be worse.  Hold tighter to the knowledge that even fewer thought of their dads as boring/lame (16%).

 

 

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TABLE 1

DESIRED FATHER’S DAY GIFTS

“Thinking about gifts, among the items below, what would you like to receive for Father’s Day?  Please select all that apply."

By whether children live in their household

Base: All Fathers

 

 

 

Total

Children Live In Household

Yes

No

%

%

%

A day with family

57

61

53

Electronics/gadgets (e.g., smartphone, wireless speakers)

37

41

32

Gift certificate (e.g., massage, restaurant)

37

38

36

Home cooked meal

36

40

33

Pictures of my children/grandchildren

34

30

38

Hand-made card

32

38

24

Tools/power tools

31

40

22

Cooking equipment (e.g., grill, smoker)

28

35

21

Sports equipment/paraphernalia (e.g., golf clubs, team jersey)

28

37

17

Jewelry/accessories (e.g., watch, cufflinks)

9

11

7

Tie

7

8

6

Something else

13

15

11

None of these

7

3

10

 

 

 


TABLE 2

FATHER’S DAY GIFTS

“Thinking about gifts, among the items below, what are you most likely to give for Father’s Day? Please select all that apply."

By generation, gender, and whether children live in household

Base: Respondents to Whom Father’s Day Gifts are Applicable

 

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Children Live In Household

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X 
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures 
(69+)

Male

Female

Yes

No

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Gift certificate (e.g., massage, restaurant)

37

36

33

42

32

39

35

35

37

A day with family

36

39

31

34

37

34

37

40

33

Home cooked meal

30

29

24

33

48

21

37

34

27

Tools/power tools

28

32

27

23

17

26

29

33

24

Pictures of my children/grandchildren

22

23

23

20

20

17

26

36

12

Hand-made card

20

27

18

11

14

13

27

28

15

Electronics/gadgets (e.g., smartphone, wireless speakers)

20

27

15

16

1

20

21

26

16

Cooking equipment (e.g., grill, smoker)

17

21

14

12

14

13

20

22

13

Sports equipment/ paraphernalia (e.g., golf clubs, team jersey)

17

23

11

10

16

13

20

20

14

Tie

9

12

7

4

12

9

8

10

7

Jewelry/accessories (e.g., watch, cufflinks)

7

8

8

6

-

6

8

10

5

Something else

28

26

31

26

34

27

28

24

30

 

 

 

 


TABLE 3A

HOW AMERICANS PERCIEVED THEIR FATHERS AS CHILDREN 

"Please indicate which, if any, of the following describe how you perceived your father when you were growing up and/or how you perceive him today."

Summary of those saying “both how I felt as a child and how I feel today” or “how I felt as a child” 
by generation and gender

Base: All adults

 

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X 
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures 
(69+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Smart

68

70

62

68

71

63

72

Responsible

65

62

61

68

71

63

66

Handy

59

63

53

60

54

59

59

Funny

54

61

52

52

39

49

58

Role model

53

55

49

52

57

51

55

Sentimental

40

40

35

41

44

39

41

Cool

37

47

37

33

19

36

37

Judgmental

33

32

33

34

28

36

29

Distant

31

32

33

31

20

32

30

Embarrassing

27

39

27

19

12

27

27

Fashionable

21

22

19

22

15

21

20

Boring/Lame 

16

24

16

12

5

18

14

 

 

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

TABLE 3B

HOW AMERICANS HAVE ALWAYS PERCIEVED THEIR FATHERS 

"Please indicate which, if any, of the following describe how you perceived your father when you were growing up and/or how you perceive him today."

Summary of “both how I felt as a child and how I feel today”  

By generation and gender

Base: All adults

 

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X 
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures 
(69+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Smart

55

58

52

54

50

50

59

Responsible

52

51

51

55

49

50

54

Handy

47

52

44

47

37

45

48

Funny

42

49

43

39

28

37

47

Role model

41

43

39

40

41

38

44

Sentimental

33

30

32

35

34

30

35

Cool

26

31

27

23

16

24

27

Judgmental

22

22

21

23

22

25

20

Distant

18

20

18

18

10

18

17

Embarrassing

13

21

11

9

4

12

13

Fashionable

14

13

13

16

13

13

15

Boring/Lame 

9

12

10

6

2

10

7

 

 

 

 

TABLE 3C

HOW AMERICANS HAVE NEVER PERCIEVED THEIR FATHERS 

"Please indicate which, if any, of the following describe how you perceived your father when you were growing up and/or how you perceive him today."

Summary of “neither how I felt as a child nor how I feel today”  

By generation and gender

Base: All adults

 

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X 
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures 
(69+)

Male

Female

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Boring/Lame 

52

47

49

57

58

48

55

Fashionable

49

50

50

48

49

48

50

Embarrassing

46

38

44

53

50

44

47

Distant

39

38

30

42

51

36

42

Judgmental

38

35

36

40

44

34

42

Cool

33

25

33

38

43

32

33

Sentimental

28

25

31

30

28

28

28

Funny

21

13

22

25

31

23

18

Role model

20

16

23

23

18

20

20

Handy

17

14

19

19

19

17

17

Responsible

12

12

12

13

11

12

12

Smart

10

7

13

12

11

11

10

 

 

 

TABLE 3D

HOW AMERICANS PERCIEVED THEIR FATHERS AS CHILDREN AND TODAY 

"Please indicate which, if any, of the following describe how you perceived your father when you were growing up and/or how you perceive him today."

Summary Grid

Base: All adults

 

 

 

Both how I felt as a child and how I feel today

How I felt as a child*

How I feel today**

Neither how I felt as a child nor how I feel today

Not applicable

%

%

%

%

%

Smart

55

68

64

10

12

Responsible

52

65

63

12

12

Handy

47

59

56

17

15

Funny

42

54

52

21

16

Role model

41

53

52

20

16

Sentimental

33

40

47

28

18

Cool

26

37

36

33

20

Judgmental

22

33

32

38

20

Distant

18

31

26

39

22

Fashionable

14

21

20

49

24

Embarrassing

13

27

17

46

23

Boring/Lame

9

16

13

52

28

 

 

* Net of those saying, “how I felt as a child” or “both how I felt as a child and how I feel today”

** Net of those saying, “how I feel today” or “both how I felt as a child and how I feel today”

 

 

TABLE 4

FATHER’S LESSONS

"Which of the following did you learn from your father? Please select all that apply."

by generation, gender, and region

 Base: Respondents Who Learned Something From Their Fathers

 

 

 

Total

Generation

Gender

Region

Millennials (18-37)

Gen X 
(38-49)

Baby Boomers (50-68)

Matures 
(69+)

Male

Female

East

Midwest

South

West

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

A strong work ethic

76

69

75

83

78

75

77

74

74

76

80

How to be a good person

64

59

61

67

75

66

62

62

62

67

63

How to drive

54

58

48

57

48

57

53

49

56

52

61

Financial responsibility

51

48

40

55

65

47

54

56

47

53

48

Car maintenance (e.g., change a tire, check the oil)

40

47

41

39

24

43

38

32

41

42

45

Self confidence

39

36

34

43

44

42

36

38

35

40

43

Good sportsmanship

37

41

31

38

33

43

31

36

35

36

40

How to play a sport

27

39

29

20

10

33

22

29

27

25

30

Gardening

24

23

23

24

25

23

24

24

20

25

25

How to cook

20

28

18

13

21

19

21

19

18

23

19

All about “the birds and the bees”

11

11

13

10

7

16

6

10

11

11

12

Dating skills

6

12

6

2

3

7

6

4

8

6

6

How to play an instrument

6

10

4

4

1

6

5

5

5

4

8

 

 

 

 


TABLE 5

FATHER’S MOST VALUED LESSON

"Of the following things your father taught you, which meant the most to you?"

 Base: Respondents Who Learned Something From Their Fathers

 

 

 

Total

Gender

Male

Female

%

%

%

How to be a good person

35

35

35

A strong work ethic

31

31

30

Financial responsibility

9

8

9

Self confidence

7

8

6

How to drive

6

7

5

Car maintenance (e.g., change a tire, check the oil)

3

3

4

How to play a sport

2

3

1

How to cook

2

1

3

Gardening

2

2

2

Good sportsmanship

2

3

1

How to play an instrument

1

1

*

All about “the birds and the bees”

*

1

-

Dating skills

*

1

*

 

 

Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

 

 

 

 


Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 adults (aged 18 and over), of whom 405 were fathers. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online. 

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

 

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

 

The Harris Poll® #33, June 17, 2015

By Hannah Pollack, Harris Poll Research Analyst

 

About The Harris Poll®

Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. 

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