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 5: Guiding Light: Foundations for Sharing Parenting
Guiding Light: Foundations for Sharing Parenting
All my conversations with the 18 families resonated with themes of how these men and women came to organize their current family life. Talk of “life philosophy” and “family values” was embedded in their descriptions of arrangement patterns and their individual and collective histories. Both men and women talked about what they believed was important for them to bring to their parenting experiences. Commonly, I heard things like, “They [children] don't raise themselves, we raise them” (George); “Spend time together as a unit, I think that's important. Be aware of what's going on in your kid's lives … just being available for your kids and not being selfish” (Rodney); “I think when you raise ...