Sex, Men, and Babies: Stories of Awareness and Responsibility

By William Marsiglio; Sally Hutchinson | Go to book overview

6
Thinking about Fatherhood

Just as young men experience different types of romantic and sexual relationships, they can follow one of several paths to fatherhood. On the conventional path, they become fathers only after weighing the pros and cons associated with that status. Their desire antedates fatherhood, and they are prepared financially and emotionally. Most discuss the desire with a partner and perhaps even negotiate what being a father in practical terms means. The conventional path is well laid out.

On the path that is less straightforward, men unexpectedly head toward fatherhood because the preceding sexual relationship was marked by careless contraceptive practice, contraceptive failure, or partner deceit about contraceptive use. Many of these men initially feel ill-prepared to become fathers for financial, emotional, or developmental reasons. Some may take to the idea as a partner’s pregnancy moves along; others may not, and grow uneasy about their unreadiness to assume a new status, or grow angry in particular with the partner. Many of the single men in our sample feared that they might find themselves on this path; and some were.

Much can be gained by studying men’s evolving identities as persons who presumably have the potential to procreate. Men’s procreative identities are linked to the sexual and contraceptive choices they make implicitly or explicitly. Do they have sexual intercourse? When do they have it? What is the nature of the relationships in which they have sex? Do they discuss pregnancy resolution options before having sex? Before conception? What, if anything, is decided about contraceptive use? The consequences of the choices ultimately place men on a path that is more or less likely to lead them to the land of procreation.

Men’s identities are typically affected, too, by projected or actual commitments to their children. Understanding the personal and interpersonal processes associated with how men try to make sense of their prospective or new roles is vital.

-176-

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Sex, Men, and Babies: Stories of Awareness and Responsibility
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents iii
  • Preface v
  • 1 - Setting the Stage 1
  • 2 - Studying Young Single Men 31
  • 3 - Becoming Aware, Being Aware 61
  • 4 - Turning Points in Identity 110
  • 5 - Romantic Involvements 139
  • 6 - Thinking about Fatherhood 176
  • 7 - Looking Forward 209
  • Appendix - Participant Profiles 241
  • Notes 245
  • References 259
  • Index 273
  • About the Authors 280
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