Imagining fatherhood: Young Australian men's perspectives on fathering

Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Journal of Men's Health, 2013, 12 (2), pp. 150 - 165
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Cultural norms that view men as peripheral to family life and to decision-making about parenthood have shaped mainstream research agendas and underlie the relative lack of research on men's perspectives on fatherhood. This semi-structured interview study explored the subjective meaning of having children and being a father in the imagined future lives of 16 male university students in Australia. The men generally had well-considered preferences, attitudes and aspirations about fatherhood and shared them readily and articulately, challenging persisting gender stereotypes. We identified four themes in their talk. Fulfilment and contentment dealt with positively looking forward to an adult life encompassing satisfying work, marriage, and children. Traditional and new fatherhood described talk that simultaneously valued a traditional 'breadwinner' role and close, involved fatherhood, and generally failed to address the inherent contradictions in managing these two models of fatherhood. Time of preparation encompassed talk about the perceived necessity of finishing education, establishing a stable, financially rewarding career, and developing personal maturity as preconditions to fatherhood. Models of family and fatherhood referred to the men's frequent reference to their own families as models that they wished to replicate or, at times, correct in their own fatherhood. Altogether, this study provides a justification for systematic and comprehensive research on men's perspectives, preferences and attitudes regarding fatherhood and family. © 2013 by the Men's Studies Press, LLC.
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