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 7: The Dance of Father Involvement: Men's and Women's Connected Experiences
The Dance of Father Involvement: Men's and Women's Connected Experiences
Talking with many couples, I learned about more than the pragmatics of deciding on and carrying out complementary parenting roles, divided up somehow between women and men. I heard about more than a woman deciding, as a mother, that she would do the bedtime routine, for example, which then meant the man was free from that responsibility but was expected to clean up the play room, for example. There was more to this than that it was agreed on in some complementary fashion and bargaining for advantage. I detected, over the flow of many conversations, something more ephemeral. I sensed I was hearing, seeing, and feeling ...