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.
Chapter 1: Introduction
Fatherhood: Vignettes from a Researcher's Notebook
A first-time father enters the nursery of a prominent teaching hospital and informs the duty-nurse that he will be taking the baby to the room to be with his wife. The nurse says okay, then adds, “Since I have only your baby to look after just now, I'll just change the diaper.” At this point, she takes the baby over to a changing table, leaving the new father waiting to connect with his son beside the now-empty bassinet. (Hospital scene: an everyday observation)
Several mothers chat at the school bus stop as they wait with their children. A man and his three children approach the bus stop; they are all engaged in animated conversation. The mothers begin to talk about ...