Fatherhood

Haris Kuljancic

 

Rehel’s article on paternity leave redefined the role of the caregiver. She says, “the gendered division of labor that occurs when men and women parent together is far from biologically inevitable. We have evidence that men and women can do “parenting” in the same way” (114). I found that many people would usually use the “biology” excuse when it came down to parenting, however she is very clear in disproving that theory. I love that the playing field is set equal and that the father has the ability to parent and care for the child as much as the mother. Rehel also mentions the role that income plays in parenting and unpaid labor. She says, “often in terms of income, has the most power, enabling that partner to opt out of unpaid labor” (112). In this scenario, if the father is contributing more to the family in terms of income as well as if he is greatly involved in parenting, there will be great controversy in terms of the power dynamic within the relationship.

 

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That idea perfectly links Townsend’s article, “Marriage, Work, and Fatherhood in Men’s Lives,” because of his interview with Ralph. Ralph was a playful parent and he noticed, “One parent seems like the disciplinarian and the other one is not. And in my family I am. And my wife doesn’t understand: “Why won’t the children listen to me?” Because it’s always: ”I’m gonna tell your father.” She had to call me here [at work]. I’ve had to talk to them on the phone. And they straighten right up” (256). As the power imbalance grows, the kids notice that there are different bonds that are held with each parent. This was the same in my household. This exact situation, actually, happened several times, where my mom would have to call my dad at work and have him talk to us because we were misbehaving. At the same time, I felt like I was closer to my dad because he was more playful and relatable.

It’s always very difficult to find the perfect balance, however both of these articles gave us hints that it was possible. A father doesn’t have to be the helper; he can also be a primary care giver. As we saw in the film in class, men learn through experience, just as anybody would when dealing with a new addition to the family. As long as the willingness to parent is there, then the ability to do so is as well.

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7 thoughts on “Fatherhood

  1. Jihmmy N. Sanchez

    Harris, my household was the same as yours. My mother would have to often times call my dad at his job or wait until my dad got home from work to tell him that my sister and I had misbehaved. My dad was also the more playful parent as well so my relationship with my dad was much closer than the one I had with my mother. My mother was also very cold and didn’t really play around with my sister when were younger.

    I agree with you when you say that these articles give hints and shed light on what could be the new age of parenting. A society where both mothers and fathers have the same opportunity to take parental leave and where both of them have the same chance to be the breadwinners of their families. Men shouldn’t have to be the breadwinners all the time, they should step out of that comfort zone that has been established for men to avoid the physical labor of parenting.

  2. Gina Pol

    I like how you mentioned that many people use the “biology” excuse as the reason why parenting is more aimed towards mothers when in fact the research done by Rehel disclaims that notion. Rehel’s research showed that fathers are just as capable as mothers in parenting and it is evident that it was a continuous learning process for them. In addition, I thought it was interesting that when these leaves did occur, it was always the father and the mother that were taking care of the child together as opposed to a father taking a leave and spending one-on-one time with his child. It was as if the father always needed the mother to be there in order for him to do his parenting job. I think it would be very interesting if research were done on that.

  3. Harris, your image perfectly sums up the idea that fathers are often expected to prioritize their work above their responsibilities at home. This picture shows a father entirely focused on the work he is doing on his computer, despite the fact that his children are crawling over him and clearly want to be in his company. While almost all images of mothers show them interacting with their children and this relationship as the focal point, many images of fathers show them working with the kids on the side. If we replaced the man with a woman, she would be heavily criticized for ignoring her children and for being a bad mother, However, this image has become normalized for me and for society in general; because men are expected to be the breadwinners, and are allowed to spend more time working, it is acceptable that this father disregards his children and prioritizes his work over his kids.

    Sophie Sharps

  4. Bianca Scofield

    I think it is very important that you mention the biological myth that women are better parents than men. Like it mentions in the article, men and women can parent the exact same way at the exact same skill level if they put the same amount of time into it. I also really liked the image you used. It pretty much captures our society’s depiction of fatherhood. Children climbing on top of their father craving attention while the father focuses on his laptop probably checking his email or doing some other sort of work related activity.

  5. Zoe Halpert

    I found it interesting that even in situations where the mother is the primary caregiver and the one given the responsibility of raising the children, in some situations it is the father who is the disciplinarian. It proves that men really do have the ultimate power; the mother might tell her kids to do something, but if they don’t, their father will be the one to punish them.

  6. Gracie Hall

    In my household the phrase “I’m going to call your father” was yelled at my siblings and I when we were misbehaving as well. However, what was interesting, was that in my family, like some families in the Townsend article my mother was the primary disciplinary and my father was always there to “back up” my mother. This dynamic expanded beyond discipline, and I remember a number of times asking my father if I could do something, and him immediately replying “what did your mother say?” In this way, my father wasn’t even a resource that my mother could mobilize; my mother as the default parent, had the full responsibility to make all decisions even if she wanted help. In my family, my mother certainly controlled, arranged or supervised our interactions with my father.

  7. Karen Cardona ,
    Same as you and Jimmy i’ve always had a closer relationship with my father. My father would always let me get away with things that my mother would not (eating more candy, staying up later).My father has always been more sensitive and emotional than my mother which i found hard to understand growing up in a society where those roles are often reversed. Something that i found weird and that i still find weird is the way my mother always told my brother and i to do something and when we didn’t listened she always called my father and we would listen right away. Why was it that if my mother was much more strict we always had to be reminded of the male figure to be able to do things?

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