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Title: Fatherhood : comparing retrospective and contemporary accounts of parenting
Author: Shaw, Colin D.
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 6325
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2016
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Men's involvement in their children’s lives has become the object of intense academic and policy-oriented research, often with the assumption that greater paternal commitment is good for children, their mothers and men themselves. This thesis, based on semi-structured interviews of 24 men, provides a unique contribution to current debates by exploring men’s accounts of fatherhood from a perspective that includes both fathers of young and adult children. Expanding the concept of fatherhood to other ages and stages of the father-child relationship, it explores how men perceive changes in the performance of the fathering role and sheds light on the perceived 'lag' in men's involvement in children's lives vis-a-vis the mothers'. This thesis suggests that men are sometimes ambivalent to the contemporary parenting ideal of 'more is better' and question how increased involvement can affect children’s autonomy and independence. Men often configure an ideal childhood - one marked by a lack of parental monitoring and great spatial freedom - with reference to their own experience, and, by comparison, perceive contemporary childhood as constrained within the domestic sphere. While this environment may be a 'safe' place for children, it is developmentally impoverished compared to their own childhood experiences. This thesis identifies a paradox in men’s attitudes to contemporary parenting: their fathers’ more 'negligent' approach enabled the free and unfettered childhood they greatly valued. By contrast, their own greater commitment to fathering risks creating a more controlled and restricted childhood, leading to a less developmentally stimulating experience for their children. The thesis also sheds light on the persistent effect of gender expectations on how men parent, especially with regard to the public performance of masculinity and fatherhood. Greater involvement in the care of children places men in a world of gender they are sometimes uncomfortable with, leading to anxieties about the appropriateness of their involvement.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available