New study explores importance of fatherhood to men
How important is being a father to men?
That and other related questions are the subject of new study co-authored by Veronica Tichenor, associate professor of sociology at SUNYIT. The article in the fall 2011 issue of the journal Fathering asked men—both married and “cohabiting”—to rate the importance of fatherhood in their lives compared to work, recreation and other competing interests; it also examines how important fatherhood is to non-fathers.
Tichenor and her co-authors point out that previous studies have shown that most men expect to be fathers, viewing it as inevitable or the next step in their lives, but that dramatic social changes have raised new questions about men’s attitudes about fatherhood. And the long-ago stereotype of the disengaged dad who concentrates on the office and golf at the expense of parenting may be a thing of the past.
"Rather than career and leisure competing with fatherhood, men tend to place great importance on all three," Tichenor said, "meaning that, while (at least some) men may face expectations for greater involvement in parenting and household labor, providing still appears central to the enactment of the father role and may be critical to maintaining the father identity."
Among the study’s findings:
• Fatherhood is important in the lives of men—fathers and non-fathers alike
• Fathers are less likely than non-fathers to say that leisure is very important to them
• Fathers have lower education and are less likely to be in school
• Fathers are more religious and are more likely to “endorse non-egalitarian gender attitudes
Tichenor says there are plenty of questions the study does not answer, many of them promising areas for future research: how men view fatherhood compared to their identity as a husband, and fatherhood’s importance relative to parental involvement, and motherhood. “The Importance of Fatherhood to U.S. Married and Cohabiting Men,” published by the Men’s Studies Press, LLC, in the fall 2011 issue of the journal Fathering, is available online at:
Tichenor is also the author of “Earning More and Getting Less: Why Successful Wives Can't Buy Equality,” published by Rutgers University Press. A member of the faculty since 2003, she is the coordinator of SUNYIT's new bachelor's degree program in community and behavioral health.
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