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 6: Tag-Team Parenting and the Mechanisms of Sharing Parenting
Tag-Team Parenting and the Mechanisms of Sharing Parenting
As I listened to men and women talk about the routines they had created to manage the busyness of their daily lives, stories about taking turns being the parent who was “in charge” were common. The sense of a rich rhythm and a continuous flow of sharing parenting and covering parenting responsibilities on a daily basis was deeply embedded in these stories. Men's and women's narratives were generously sprinkled with talk of “taking shifts.” Their talk of shifts began to carry new meanings for me. These women and men were using words like team and tag team and spelling each other. This language seemed quite distinctive. I decided to peer ...