Fathers as Primary Caregivers

Fathers as Primary Caregivers

Fathers as Primary Caregivers

Fathers as Primary Caregivers

Synopsis

Caregiving role rather than gender has a predominant influence on parent interaction in nonstressful as well as stressful situations. Primary caregiving fathers can competently assume caregiving and nurturant functions so as to become their infants' primary attachment figures.

Excerpt

This book is about change in long-standing traditions and the creative maintenance of security and stability in the midst of that change. Reconfigured nuclear families, economic uncertainties, and redefinitions in gender roles are all resulting in the movement of mothers into the work force. The traditional institution of the family is faltering as men and women set new goals for their survival and for their fulfillment. These changes create a new and uncertain context for child rearing.

Through extensive videotaping of twenty-eight infants and their parents interacting in their own homes, as well as probing interviews with the parents, Brenda Geiger shows the variety of ways in which child care and careers are being combined and negotiated in middle-class America today. In half of the families studied, fathers have become their infant's primary caregiver. In the remaining families, mothers have retained that role but not without acknowledging pressures to do otherwise. Generously sharing their experiences with the researcher, all of the parents recognize their responsibility to provide their infants with stability and quality care. Geiger's exciting finding is that fathers and mothers are able to do it equally well. Fathers who are their infant's primary caregiver are able to provide their child with emotional security and sensitive care. With minor differences in style, especially play style, these fathers are able to comfort, amuse, and attend to all physical needs of their infants in the manner traditionally considered "natural" to mothers. Geiger's well-controlled and insightful procedures allow these parents to show that gender does not determine parenting sensitivity and capability.

Drawing especially from the research, writing, and methodology of attachment theorists, Geiger provides a concise explication of the major theories of child development to explain the significance of the new role for . . .

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