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 4: A Diversity of Paths: What Influenced Men and Women to Move Toward Sharing Parenting
A Diversity of Paths: What Influenced Men and Women to Move Toward Sharing Parenting
I was very interested in the background, or the paths that may have led these men and women in the direction of co-creating their working vision of sharing parenting. Asking these men and women about what led them to this place in their family lives, I heard them describe a number of processes. Behind the structure of their current family life arrangements lies a dynamic interplay between individual histories of the man and that of his partner, and the history of their life together as a couple and a family. In listening to all 18 families' partial stories, ...