There are a variety of terms used to characterize fatherhood. Unwed fathers are men with children who have never been married, absent fathers are unmarried or married fathers who live away from their children, resident fathers live with all their children, and absent and resident fathers live with some of their children and away from others. The term fatherhood has two associated but different definitions in the social sciences: Fatherhood can be seen as a fertility status or as the behavior and character endorsed by men who have children. This entry focuses on the latter definition.

History of Fatherhood

The role of fathers has changed drastically over the past 400 years. In the colonial era, fathers were seen as primary, and irreplaceable, caregivers. They were the ones ...

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