• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Current research on fatherhood often focuses on minimal changes men have made in their participation in family life. Anna Dienhart argues that men have indeed made significant changes to their family roles, but those changes are often masked in existing discourses on fatherhood. In Reshaping Fatherhood, Dienhart's qualitative study of 18 shared parenting couples explores both men's and women's resourcefulness and shows how these couples have deliberately co-created alternatives to traditional parenting roles. Using these narrative accounts, Dienhart offers several options for creating a family structure that allows both mothers and fathers to participate actively in parenting.

Dienhart emphasizes that “tag-team parenting,” a common technique that couples use to juggle the responsibilities of a hectic family life, relies on both the interchangeability of parental tasks as well as the specialization by preference. Dienhart compares shared parenting to a dance that demands continuous revision of the perceptions and activities of fatherhood and motherhood. She challenges family researchers to move beyond deficit and comparative model perspectives about the complexities of gendered family life as she offers alternative ideas about division-of-labor patterns, men's relational capabilities in child care, the preeminence of men's provider role, and traditional notions about gender and politics in families.

This timely book is ideal for professionals and students in family studies, sociology of the family, family psychology, and gender studies.

Meaning-Making
Meaning-making

As a researcher, I was interested in the meanings men and women ascribe to their everyday experiences of sharing the intimate, intricate, subtle experience of raising children together. Recognizing that their meanings would have been socially constructed between them against the backdrop of predominantly Western cultural practices, I endeavored to access multiple perspectives. Particularly, I wanted to hear men's meaning constructions of their fatherhood experiences; women's constructed meanings about fatherhood; and men's and women's constructed meanings about how each perceives the effect of their ideas, behaviors, and feelings on their partner as they share parenting. I wanted to understand their meanings, rather than impose some preconceived notions, so I adopted the practice of open, unstructured interviewing. I also frequently checked out my evolving interpretations ...

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