Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Fatherhood in Urban Mexico*

Academic journal article Journal of Comparative Family Studies

Fatherhood in Urban Mexico*

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

This paper analyzes the practice of fatherhood in urban Mexico in the late 20th century. As it is known, this practice includes quite distinct, highly complex dimensions, such as deciding whether and when to have children, looking after them as regards food, hygiene and health, financial support, the aspects of discipline and the transmission of knowledge, as well as affection, communication and closeness between fathers and children. The changes that are probably beginning to take place in Mexico in this phenomenon may involve several of these aspects. Some of the ones that have called the attention of researchers and policy makers are the loss of importance in the central role played by men in the financial support of their families and children, and the still limited variations in Mexican's men traditionally low participation in reproductive life in general.

Within this context of very low male presence in the reproductive sphere, several studies in Mexico and at the international level have highlighted the occurrence of possible changes in the amount of attention fathers give to their children, as well as in various aspects related to their care. In this paper, we are particularly interested in exploring this type of transformations, on the basis of the analysis of survey data which refers to a broad group of men.

More specifically, our aim in this study is to analyze the multiple factors that help explain Mexican men's participation in looking after their children. We obtained information from a probabilistic survey of men living in two of the main metropolitan areas in the country: Mexico City tad Monterrey. We have included a range of individual, family and contextual factors in this study, and used a multivariate statistical analysis to determine which of them help to explain the variations in the participation of men in child care.

In addition to this introduction, the text has three sections and some final considerations. In the following part, we provide a general overview of the way various perspectives have approached men's participation in the family in general and reproductive activities in particular. We also analyze the results of research undertaken in Mexico and other countries on the sexual division of labor within families and the possible changes that are taking place in various aspects of fathering. In the third section, we begin by showing some of the sociodemographic, economic and socio-cultural features that characterize late 20th century Mexico. The aim is to outline the structural context in which the men being studied engage in fathering. We then describe the main features of the men analyzed, as well as the prevailing division of labor within their homes. In the fourth section, we proceed to discuss the logistic regression models used to examine the main factors associated with men's participation in the care of their children. Finally, by way of a conclusion; we reflect on the implications of the main findings and offer a number of final considerations on the importance and nature of the transformations that are taking place.

THE ROLE OF MEN IN THE FAMILY

The last two decades of the 20th century saw a growing interest in discovering, explaining and transforming the role of men in the family. These concerns originally arose in developed countries, in a changing socioeconomic, demographic and cultural context characterized by women's growing labour force participation, the presence of new family arrangements (the rise in the number of dual-earner and women-headed households), the increase in divorce rates and the number of children born out of wedlock, as well as the restructuring of productive activities, greater instability and insecurity in the world of work and the decline of the welfare state. Several analytical perspectives have contributed to the debate such as the gender perspective, and some analytical approaches in population studies, sociology and anthropology. …

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