June 16, 2001 – Two things appear evident from the responses to last week's Source reader poll: First, readers would much rather express their views on political and economic issues than share their personal feelings about a private relationship. And second, willingness to share such feelings may depend on whether the views to be expressed are positive or negative.
Last week's question, tied to Father's Day this Sunday and the second annual Fathers' Night Out initiative that got under way in the territory last Wednesday, was this: "How would you best describe your father's relationship with you when you were growing up (or now, if you're still a youth)?"
This was the first time the Source had posed a question asking not for an opinion but for an intimate assessment. The volume of responses — a total of 183 — was significantly lower than that typically received for questions dealing with "public interest" issues. Especially for St. John this was the case, with a total of only eight readers responding.
This could be for several reasons. Readers may simply not feel comfortable expressing such personal feelings in a public forum, or they may be reluctant to do so through the impersonal medium of the Internet, or they may have concerns about their privacy and anonymity in doing so.
Nearly two-thirds of those who chose to respond gave their fathers good grades: A total of 40 percent said their dads were "caring, sharing, involved and supportive." Another 25 percent said their dads, while less affectionate, were concerned, sharing and responsible.
At the other end of the spectrum, 11 percent said their fathers had a negative impact on their lives, and 7 percent said they didn't know or couldn't remember their fathers.
Another 7 percent said their fathers weren't around much and didn't have much impact on their lives.
Yet another 7 percent gave their dads credit for providing for their basic needs despite the lack of a close personal relationship. Except for this response, there were no significant differences among St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John respondents. This option was chosen by 15 percent of all the St. Croix respondents, compared to 3 percent of those on St. Thomas and none on St. John.
Just 3 percent overall said their dads were domineering.
Here are the options poll respondents had, along with the numbers of responses each received:
1. He is/was affectionate, caring, sharing, greatly involved in my life and in almost all ways supportive.
STT (39), STX (30), STJ (4) = Total 73 (41 percent)
2. He is/was less affectionate, yet concerned, sharing or taking responsibility for my upbringing and discipline.
STT (26), STX (17), STJ (2) = Total 45 (25 percent)
3. He is/was too domineering, too controlling in my life.
STT (3), STX (3), STJ (0) = Total 6 (3 percent)
4. He meets/met his responsibilities as far as providing for my basic needs but isn’t/wasn’t very close to me personally.
STT (3), STX (11), STJ (0) = Total 14 (7 percent)
5. He isn’t/wasn’t around much and doesn’t/didn’t have much impact on my life.
STT (6), STX (6), STJ (0) = Total 12 (7 percent)
6. His impact on my life mainly has been/was negative.
STT (15), STX (4), STJ (1) = Total 20 (11 percent)
7. I don’t/didn’t know or can’t remember my father.
STT (8), STX (4), STJ (1) = Total 13 (7 percent)
This is not intended to be a scientific poll. But we feel that, as a rough gauge of how Source readers feel about issues confronting the territory, the results are interesting and worth considering. And we hope that you will consider voting in this week's poll and those to come.


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