Fatherhood and Family Policy

Fatherhood and Family Policy

Fatherhood and Family Policy

Fatherhood and Family Policy

Excerpt

In the last two decades, countries throughout the Western world have witnessed dramatic changes in social attitudes concerning sex roles. Traditional assumptions that women should devote themselves to their roles as wives and mothers while men should assume primary responsibility for economic support of the family have been widely reexamined. Spurred by the Women's Liberation Movement and by economic pressures, an increasing number of women have assumed permanent and personally important roles in the work force. Although many barriers remain, many of the industrial countries have passed legislation designed to ensure equal employment and legal opportunities for women.

Despite these efforts, many inequities remain. One reason for the slow progress appears to be that in their single-minded focus on equal opportunities for women, reformers have ignored the need to change attitudes regarding men's roles as well. As long as women have to fulfill the demands of two roles (family and employment) while men are responsible only for employment, inequities will remain, and women's advancement will be constrained. Apparently, then, further improvement in the status of women seems to depend on the increased involvement of men in their family roles. Child care seems to be a critical area; the extensive and enduring burdens of child care are traditionally borne nearly exclusively by women. Even when men wish to assume increased parental responsibilities, however, there exist many institutional, economic, legal, and attitudinal barriers. The goal of this book is to review the evidence concerning: a) the factors that limit or constrain male involvement in child care; b) the ways in which some of these factors are being or might be changed; and c) the effects of traditional and increased paternal involvement on men, women, and children. The book thus involves bringing together the scholarly literature and contempo-

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