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 2: Academic Discourses: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fatherhood
Academic Discourses: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fatherhood
Family scientists have long considered men's contribution to and participation in family life to be important. Over the years, the study of men in families, as fathers in particular, has evolved to a current interest in the complex and diverse ways men contribute to, are potentially challenged by, and benefit from fatherhood experiences. Current research spans a broad spectrum of interests from diverse ethno-cultural experiences (e.g., Chicano, black, Asian fathers), different age cohorts of fathers (e.g., adolescent fathers, middle-aged first-time fathers), and different family forms (e.g., single fathers, noncustodial fathers, fathers with joint custody, primary parent fathers, fathers with a special needs child). Some academics have also begun to critique the tendency of researchers ...