What does Fatherhood mean?

by | Mar 4, 2019 | All, Fatherhood-Motherhood-Children Education | 0 comments

Christine Marlet

Views about what it means to be a father and the roles of fatherhood are constructed over many years, beginning in early childhood (1).

No researcher has described the paths that move boys to the practice of fathering, nor even constructed a unified theory explaining the complex set of developmental processes that give meaning to and shape the practice of fatherhood (2) (3). Similarly, relatively little is known about factors that contribute to changes in a father’s involvement in his child’s life over time.

However, research on fatherhood is at present a rapidly expanding field of knowledge. The questions at issue are no longer focused only on the topic of how fathers’ behavioural patterns influence their children’s development. New perspectives have developed and much current research focuses on the men themselves and how fatherhood is constructed in everyday practice and in relationships.

Parallel to this development there is also a growing academic interest in how men live their lives, create their male identities, and form relationships with their surrounding world. One context in which these kinds of questions are being explored is in the new research on men and masculinities. However, such research has only to a limited extent paid attention to the issue of male parenting. Its focus has been more on men’s relations to work, sports, violence, and sexuality (4). Furthermore, we have noted a particular lack of research on the relationship between masculinity and fatherhood, which in a clear way connects issues concerning fatherhood and male identity.


(1)     Talking and Doing Fatherhood: On Fatherhood and Masculinity in Sweden and England-Lars Plantin, University of Malmö, Sven-Axel Mansson, Göteborg university, Jeremy Kearney, University of Sunderland- Fathering, Vol. 1, No. 1, February 2003, pp. 3-26.

(2)     Lamb, M. (Ed.). (1997). The role of the father in child development (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley. Lamb, M. E. (Ed.). (1999).

(3)     Tanfer, K., & Mott, F. (1998). The meaning of fatherhood for men. In  Nurturing fatherhood: Improving data and research on male fertility, family formation and fatherhood  (pp. 249— 293). Washington, DC: Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics

(4)     Lupton, D., & Barclay, L, (1997). Constructing fatherhood: Discourses and experiences. London: Sage.


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