The Psychology of Everyday Life:Love, Marriage, and the Baby Carriage


How do people vary in their understanding of gender roles in parenting?

While nature has prepared women to be integrally involved in child care, there is much more variability with regard to the role of the father. Most fathers are involved in the support and protection of their family, but the degree to which they are involved in the day-to-day process of parenting can vary considerably across cultures and across historical periods. In modern Western society, changes in sex roles over the last several decades have radically changed cultural views about fathers’ roles in child care. Although women still do the majority of child care, fathers are now expected to assume more child-care responsibilities than their own fathers may have done. This shift in roles can lead to some confusion as partners may have differing views and expectations about a father’s role. A number of studies address that fact that new fathers seem to lack clarity about their role as a parent. These studies show that new fathers often feel uncertain about their relevance to the whole process, may have difficulty appreciating the degree of stress their partner is undergoing, and often have unrealistic attitudes about parenting techniques.


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