For the magazine, see Parenting (magazine). For parental care in animals, see Parental investment.
Parenting or child rearing is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the intricacies of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.
The most common caretaker in parenting is the biological parent(s) of the child in question, although others may be an older sibling, a grandparent, a legal guardian, aunt, uncle or other family member, or a family friend.Governments and society may have a role in child-rearing as well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised in foster care, or placed in an orphanage. Parenting skills vary, and a parent with good parenting skills may be referred to as a good parent.
The English pediatrician and psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott described the concept of "good-enough" parenting in which a minimum of prerequisites for healthy child development are met. Winnicott wrote, "The good-enough mother...starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure." Views on the characteristics that make one a good or "good-enough" parent vary from culture to culture. Additionally, research has supported that parental history both in terms of attachments of varying quality as well as parental psychopathology, particularly in the wake of adverse experiences, can strongly influence parental sensitivity and child outcomes.
Factors that affect decisions
Main article: Parenting styles
Social class, wealth, culture and income have a very strong impact on what methods of child rearing are used by parents. Cultural values play a major role in how a parent raises their child. However, parenting is always evolving; as times change, cultural practices and social norms and traditions change
In psychology, the parental investment theory suggests that basic differences between males and females in parental investment have great adaptive significance and lead to gender differences in mating propensities and preferences.
A family's social class plays a large role in the opportunities and resources that will be made available to a child. Working-class children often grow up at a disadvantage with the schooling, communities, and parental attention made available to them compared to middle-class or upper-class upbringings. Also, lower working-class families do not get the kind of networking that the middle and upper classes do through helpful family members, friends, and community individuals and groups as well as various professionals or experts.
Main article: Parenting styles
A parenting style is the overall emotional climate in the home.Developmental psychologistDiana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. These parenting styles were later expanded to four, including an uninvolved style.On the one hand, these four styles of parenting involve combinations of acceptance and responsiveness, and on the other hand, involve demand and control. Research has found that parenting style is significantly related to children's subsequent mental health and well-being. In particular, authoritative parenting is positively related to mental health and satisfaction with life, and authoritarian parenting is negatively related to these variables.
- Authoritative parenting
- Described by Baumrind as the "just right" style, in combines a medium level demands on the child and a medium level responsiveness from the parents. Authoritative parents rely on positive reinforcement and infrequent use of punishment. Parents are more aware of a child's feelings and capabilities and support the development of a child's autonomy within reasonable limits. There is a give-and-take atmosphere involved in parent-child communication and both control and support are balanced. Research[vague] shows that this style is more beneficial than the too-hard authoritarian style or the too-soft permissive style. An example of authoritative parenting would be the parents talking to their child about their emotions.[original research?]
- Authoritarian parenting styles
- Authoritarian parents are very rigid and strict. They place high demands on the child, but are not responsive to the child. Parents who practice authoritarian style parenting have a rigid set of rules and expectations that are strictly enforced and require rigid obedience. When the rules are not followed, punishment is most often used to promote future obedience. There is usually no explanation of punishment except that the child is in trouble for breaking a rule. This parenting style is more strongly associated with corporal punishment, such as spanking. "Because I said so" is a typical response to a child's question of authority. This type of authority is used more often in working-class families than the middle class. In 1983 Diana Baumrind found that children raised in an authoritarian-style home were less cheerful, more moody and more vulnerable to stress. In many cases these children also demonstrated passive hostility. An example of authoritarian parenting would be the parents harshly punishing their children and disregarding their children's feelings and emotions.
- Permissive parenting
- Permissive or indulgent parenting is more popular in middle-class families than in working-class families. In these family settings, a child's freedom and autonomy are highly valued, and parents tend to rely mostly on reasoning and explanation. Parents are undemanding, so there tends to be little, if any punishment or explicit rules in this style of parenting. These parents say that their children are free from external constraints and tend to be highly responsive to whatever the child wants at the moment. Children of permissive parents are generally happy but sometimes show low levels of self-control and self-reliance because they lack structure at home. An example of permissive parenting would be the parents not disciplining their children.
- Uninvolved parenting
- An uninvolved or neglectful parenting style is when parents are often emotionally absent and sometimes even physically absent. They have little or no expectation of the child and regularly have no communication. They are not responsive to a child's needs and do not demand anything of them in their behavioral expectations. If present, they may provide what the child needs for survival with little to no engagement. There is often a large gap between parents and children with this parenting style. Children with little or no communication with their own parents tended to be the victims of another child’s deviant behavior and may be involved in some deviance themselves. Children of uninvolved parents suffer in social competence, academic performance, psychosocial development and problem behavior.
There is no single or definitive model of parenting. With authoritarian and permissive (indulgent) parenting on opposite sides of the spectrum, most conventional and modern models of parenting fall somewhere in between. Parenting strategies as well as behaviors and ideals of what parents expect, whether communicated verbally and/or non-verbally, also play a significant role in a child's development.
A parenting practice is a specific behavior that a parent uses in raising a child. For example, a common parent practice intended to promote academic success is reading books to the child. Storytelling is an important parenting practice for children in many Indigenous American communities.
Parenting practices reflect the cultural understanding of children. Parents in individualistic countries like Germany spend more time engaged in face-to-face interaction with babies and more time talking to the baby about the baby. Parents in more communal cultures, such as West African cultures, spend more time talking to the baby about other people, and more time with the baby facing outwards, so that the baby sees what the mother sees. Children develop skills at different rates as a result of differences in these culturally driven parenting practices. Children in individualistic cultures learn to act independently and to recognize themselves in a mirror test at a younger age than children whose cultures promote communal values. However, these independent children learn self-regulation and cooperation later than children in communal cultures. In practice, this means that a child in an independent culture will happily play by herself, but a child in a communal culture is more likely to follow his mother's instruction to pick up his toys. Children that grow up in communities with a collaborative orientation to social interaction, such as some Indigenous American communities, are also able to self-regulate and become very self-confident, while remaining involved in the community.
In Kenya, Africa, many male parents are not encouraged to be involved in their children's lives till they are about 12 years old.
Parenting skills are the guiding forces of a "good parent" to lead a child into a healthy adult, they influence on development, maintenance, and cessation of children’s negative and positive behaviors. Parenting takes a lot of skill and patience and is constant work and growth. The cognitive potential, social skills, and behavioral functioning a child acquires during the early years are fundamentally dependent on the quality of their interactions with their parents.
Canadian Council on Learning says that children benefit most (avoids poor developmental outcomes) when their parents:
- Communicate truthfully about events or discussions that have happened, because authenticity from parents who explain and help their children understand on what happened and how they were involved if they were without giving defining rules will create a realistic aptitude within children's growing psyche;
- Stay consistent, as children need structure: parents who have regular routines benefits with children's behavioral pattern;
- Utilize resources available to them, reaching out into the community and building a supportive social network;
- Take more interest in their child's educational and early development needs (e.g. Play that enhances socialization, autonomy, cohesion, calmness and trust.); and
- Keep open communication and stay educated on what their child is seeing, learning and doing and how it is affecting them.
Parenting skills are often assumed to be self-evident or naturally present in parents. But those who come from a negative/vulnerable environment might tend to pass on what they suffered onto their families oppressed by their own experiences, those who have inaccurate beliefs or poorer understanding of developmental milestones only engage in the way they know which may result in problematic parenting. Parenting practices are at particular risk during marital transitions like separation, divorce and remarriage; if children fail to adequately adjust to these changes, they would be at risk of negative outcomes for example increased rule-breaking behavior, problems with peer relationships and increased emotional difficulties.Urie Bronfenbrenner said on this matter that "Every kid needs one adult who is crazy about [them]."Virginia Satir emphasized on these views by stating "Parenting...the most complicated job in the world."
Research classifies competence and skills required in parenting as follows:
- Parent-child relationship skills: quality time spend, positive communications and delighting affection.
- Encouraging desirable behavior: praise and encouragement, nonverbal attention, facilitating engaging activities.
- Teaching skills and behaviors: being a good example, incidental teaching, benevolent communication of the skill with role playing & other methods, communicating logical incentives and consequences.
- Managing misbehavior: establishing assertive ground rules/limit setting, directed discussion, providing clear and calm instructions, communicate and enforce appropriate consequences for problem behavior, using restrictive means like quiet time and time out with authoritative stance and not authoritarian.
- Anticipating and planning: advanced planning and preparation for readying the child for challenges, finding out engaging and age appropriate developmental activities, preparing token economy for self-management practice with guidance, holding follow-up discussions, identifying possible negative developmental trajectories.
- Self-regulation skills: Monitoring behaviors (own and children's), setting developmentally appropriate goals, evaluating strengths and weaknesses and setting practice tasks for skills improvement, monitoring & preventing internalizing and externalizing behaviors, setting personal goals for positive change.
- Mood and coping skills: reframing and discouraging unhelpful thoughts (diversions, goal orientation and mindfulness), stress and tension management (for self and in the house), developing personal coping statements and plans for high-risk situations, developing mutual respect and consideration between members of the family, positive involvement: engaging in support and strength oriented collaborative activities/rituals for enhancing interpersonal relationships.
- Partner support skills: improving personal communication, giving and receiving constructive feedback and support, avoiding negative family interaction styles, supporting and finding hope in problems for adaptation, collaborative or leading/navigate problem solving, promoting relationship happiness and cordiality.
Consistency is considered as the “backbone” of positive parenting skills and “overprotection” as the weakness.
Parents around the world want what they believe is best for their children. However, parents in different cultures have different ideas of what is best. For example, parents in a hunter–gatherer society or surviving through subsistence agriculture are likely to promote practical survival skills from a young age. Many such cultures begin teaching babies to use sharp tools, including knives, before their first birthdays. This seen in communities where children have a considerate amount of autonomy at a younger age and are given the opportunity to become skilled in tasks that are sometimes classified as adult work by other cultures. In some Indigenous American communities, child work provides children the opportunity to learn cultural values of collaborative participation and prosocial behavior through observation and participation alongside adults. American parents strongly value intellectual ability, especially in a narrow "book learning" sense. Italian parents value social and emotional abilities and having an even temperament. Spanish parents want their children to be sociable. Swedish parents value security and happiness. Dutch parents value independence, long attention spans, and predictable schedules. The Kipsigis people of Kenya value children who are not only smart, but who employ that intelligence in a responsible and helpful way, which they call ng/om. Many Indigenous American communities value respect, participation in the community, and non-interference. The practice of non-interference is an important value in Cherokee culture. It requires that one respects the autonomy of others in the community by not interfering in their decision making by giving unsolicited advice.
Differences in values cause parents to interpret different actions in different ways. Asking questions is seen by many European American parents as a sign that the child is smart. Italian parents, who value social and emotional competence, believe that asking questions is a sign that the child has good interpersonal skills. Dutch parents, who value independence, view asking questions negatively, as a sign that the child is not independent. Indigenous American parents often try to encourage curiosity in their children. Many use a permissive parenting style that enables the child to explore and learn through observation of the world around it.
Differences in values can also cause parents to employ different tools to promote their values. Many European American parents expect specially purchased educational toys to improve their children's intelligence. Some Spanish parents promote social skills by taking their children out for daily walks around the neighborhood.
Indigenous American cultures
It is common for parents in many Indigenous American communities to use different tools in parenting such as storytelling —like myths— consejos (Spanish for advice, in this context), educational teasing, nonverbal communication, and observational learning to teach their children important values and life lessons.
Storytelling is a way for Indigenous American children to learn about their identity, community, and cultural history. Indigenous myths and folklore often personify animals and objects, reaffirming the belief that everything possess a soul and must be respected. These stories help preserve language and are used to reflect certain values or cultural histories.
Consejos are a narrative form of advice giving that provides the recipient with maximum autonomy in the situation as a result of their indirect teaching style. Rather than directly informing the child what they should do, the parent instead might tell a story of a similar situation or scenario. The character in the story is used to help the child see what the implications of their decision may be, without directly making the decision for them. This teaches the child to be decisive and independent, while still providing some guidance.
The playful form of teasing is a parenting method used in some Indigenous American communities to keep children out of danger and guide their behavior. This form of teasing utilizes stories, fabrications, or empty threats to guide children in making safe, intelligent decisions. It can teach children values by establishing expectations and encouraging the child to meet them via playful jokes and/or idle threats. For example, a parent may tell a child that there is a monster that jumps on children's backs if they walk alone at night. This explanation can help keep the child safe because instilling that alarm creates greater awareness and lessens the likelihood that they will wander alone into trouble.
In Navajo families, a child’s development is partly focused on the importance of "respect" for all things as part of the child’s moral and human development. "Respect" in this sense is an emphasis of recognizing the significance of and understanding for one's relationship with other things and people in the world. Nonverbal communication is much of the way that children learn about such "respect" from parents and other family members.
For example, in a Navajo parenting tool using nonverbal communication, children are initiated at an early age into the practice of an early morning run through any weather condition. This form of guidance fosters “respect” not only for the child's family members but also to the community as a whole. On this run, the community uses humor and laughter with each other, without directly including the child—who may not wish to get up early and run—to promote the child’s motivation to participate and become an active member of the community. To modify children’s behavior in a nonverbal manner, parents also promote inclusion in the morning runs by placing their child in the snow and having them stay longer if they protest; this is done within a context of warmth, laughter, and community, to help incorporate the child into the practice.
A tool parents use in Indigenous American cultures is to incorporate children into everyday life, including adult activities, to pass on the parents’ knowledge by allowing the child to learn through observation. This practice is known as LOPI, Learning by Observing and Pitching In, where children are integrated into all types of mature daily activities and encouraged to observe and contribute in the community. This inclusion as a parenting tool promotes both community participation and learning.
In some Mayan communities, young girls are not permitted around the hearth, for an extended period of time since corn is sacred. Despite this being an exception to the more common Indigenous American practice of integrating children into all adult activities, including cooking, it is a strong example of observational learning. These Mayan girls can only see their mothers making tortillas in small bits at a time, they will then go and practice the movements their mother used on other objects, such as the example of kneading thin pieces of plastic like a tortilla. From this practice, when a girl comes of age, she is able to sit down and make tortillas without any explicit verbal instruction as a result of her observational learning.
Across the lifespan
Main articles: Family planning and Prenatal care
Family planning is the decision regarding whether and when to become parents, including planning, preparing, and gathering resources. Prospective parents may assess (among other matters) whether they have access to sufficient financial resources, whether their family situation is stable, and whether they want to undertake the responsibility of raising a child. Worldwide, about 40% of all pregnancies are not planned, and more than 30 million babies are born each year as a result of unplanned pregnancies.
Reproductive health and preconception care affect pregnancy, reproductive success, and the physical and mental health of both mother and child. A woman who is underweight, whether due to poverty, eating disorders, or illness, is less likely to have a healthy pregnancy and give birth to a healthy baby than a woman who is healthy. Similarly, a woman who is obese has higher risks of difficulties, including gestational diabetes. Other health problems, such as infections and iron-deficiency anemia, can be detected and corrected before conception.
Pregnancy and prenatal parenting
Main article: Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the unborn child is affected by many decisions made by the parents, particularly choices linked to their lifestyle. The health, activity level and nutrition available to the mother can affect the child's development before birth. Some mothers, especially in relatively wealthy countries, eat too much and spend too much time resting. Other mothers, especially if they are poor or abused, may be overworked and may not be able to eat enough, or not able to afford healthful foods with sufficient iron, vitamins, and protein, for the unborn child to develop properly.
Newborns and infants
Main article: Infant
Newborn parenting, is where the responsibilities of parenthood begins. A newborn's basic needs are food, sleep, comfort and cleaning which the parent provides. An infant's only form of communication is crying, and attentive parents will begin to recognize different types of crying which represent different needs such as hunger, discomfort, boredom, or loneliness. Newborns and young infants require feedings every few hours which is disruptive to adult sleep cycles. They respond enthusiastically to soft stroking, cuddling and caressing. Gentle rocking back and forth often calms a crying infant, as do massages and warm baths. Newborns may comfort themselves by sucking their thumb or a pacifier. The need to suckle is instinctive and allows newborns to feed. Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by all major infant health organizations. If breastfeeding is not possible or desired, bottle feeding is a common alternative. Other alternatives include feeding breastmilk or formula with a cup, spoon, feeding syringe, or nursing supplementer.
The forming of attachments is considered to be the foundation of the infant/child's capacity to form and conduct relationships throughout life. Attachment is not the same as love and/or affection although they often go together. Attachments develop immediately and a lack of attachment or a seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially do serious damage to a child's health and well-being. Physically, one may not see symptoms or indications of a disorder but the child may be emotionally affected. Studies show that children with secure attachment have the ability to form successful relationships, express themselves on an interpersonal basis and have higher self-esteem. Conversely children who have caregivers who are neglectful or emotionally unavailable can exhibit behavioral problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder or oppositional defiant disorder Oppositional-defiant disorder is a pattern of disobedient and defiant behavior toward authority figures.
Main article: Toddler
Toddlers are much more active than infants and are challenged with learning how to do simple tasks by themselves. At this stage, parents are heavily involved in showing the child how to do things rather than just doing things for them, and the child will often mimic the parents. Toddlers need help to build their vocabulary, increase their communication skills, and manage their emotions. Toddlers will also begin to understand social etiquette such as being polite and taking turns.
Toddlers are very curious about the world around them and eager to explore it. They seek greater independence and responsibility and may become frustrated when things do not go the way they want or expect. Tantrums begin at this stage, which is sometimes referred to as the 'Terrible Twos'. Tantrums are often caused by the child's frustration over the particular situation, sometimes simply not being able to communicate properly. Parents of toddlers are expected to help guide and teach the child, establish basic routines (such as washing hands before meals or brushing teeth before bed), and increase the child's responsibilities. It is also normal for toddlers to be frequently frustrated. It is an essential step to their development. They will learn through experience; trial and error. This means that they need to experience being frustrated when something does not work for them, in order to move on to the next stage. When the toddler is frustrated, they will often behave badly with actions like screaming, hitting or biting. Parents need to be careful when reacting to such behaviours, giving threats or punishments is not helpful and will only make the situation worse. Research groups led by Daniel Schechter, Alytia Levendosky, and others have shown that parents with histories of maltreatment and violence exposure often have difficulty helping their toddlers and preschool-age children with these very same emotionally dysregulated behaviours, which can remind traumatized parents of their adverse experiences and associated mental states.
Regarding gender differences in parenting, data from the US in 2014 states that, on an average day, among adults living in households with children under age 6, women spent 1.0 hour providing physical care (such as bathing or feeding a child) to household children. By contrast, men spent 23 minutes providing physical care.
Main articles: Child, Early childhood, Childhood, and Preadolescence
Younger children are becoming more independent and are beginning to build friendships. They are able to reason and can make their own decisions given hypothetical situations. Young children demand constant attention, but will learn how to deal with boredom and be able to play independently. They also enjoy helping and feeling useful and able. Parents may assist their child by encouraging social interactions and modelling proper social behaviors. A large part of learning in the early years comes from being involved in activities and household duties. Parents who observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world, learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance. Parents are also teaching their children health, hygiene, and eating habits through instruction and by example.
Parents are expected to make decisions about their child's education. Parenting styles in this area diverge greatly at this stage with some parents becoming heavily involved in arranging organized activities and early learning programs. Other parents choose to let the child develop with few organized activities.
Children begin to learn responsibility, and consequences of their actions, with parental assistance. Some parents provide a small allowance that increases with age to help teach children the value of money and how to be responsible with it.
Parents who are consistent and fair with their discipline, who openly communicate and offer explanations to their children, and who do not neglect the needs of their children in some way often find they have fewer problems with their children as they mature.
Main article: Adolescence
Parents often feel isolated and alone in parenting adolescents. Adolescence can be a time of high risk for children, where new-found freedoms can result in decisions that drastically open up or close off life opportunities. There are also large changes occurring in the brain during adolescence; the emotional center of the brain is now fully developed but the rational frontal cortex hasn't matured yet to keep all of those emotions in check. Adolescents tend to increase the amount of time they spend with peers of the opposite gender; however, they still maintain the amount of time they spend with those of the same gender--and they do this by decreasing the amount of time they spend with their parents.
Although adolescents look to peers and adults outside the family for guidance and models for how to behave, parents remain influential in their development. Studies show that parents have a significant impact, for instance, on how much teens drink.
During adolescence children are beginning to form their identity and are testing and developing the interpersonal and occupational roles that they will assume as adults. Therefore, it is important that parents treat them as young adults. Parental issues at this stage of parenting include dealing with "rebellious" teenagers who consistently push the limits. In order to prevent these issues, it is important for the parents to build a trusting relationship with their children. This can be achieved by planning and taking part in fun activities together, keeping promises made to the children, spending time with them, not reminding kids about their past mistakes and listening to and talking to them.
When a trusting relationship is built up, adolescents are more likely to approach their parents for help when faced with negative peer pressure. Helping the children build a strong foundation will help them resist negative peer pressure.
Parenting doesn't usually end when a child turns 18. Support can be needed in a child's life well beyond the adolescent years and continues into middle and later adulthood. Parenting can be a lifelong process.
Parents may provide financial support to their adult children, which can also include providing an inheritance after death. The life perspective and wisdom given by a parent can benefit their adult children in their own lives. Becoming a grandparent is another milestone and has many similarities with parenting.
Roles can be reversed in some ways when adult children become caregivers to their elderly parents.
Main article: Child care
Parents may receive assistance with caring for their children through child care programs.
Childbearing and happiness
Data from the British Household Panel Survey and the German Socio-Economic Panel suggests that having up to two children increases happiness in the years around the birth, and mostly so for those who have postponed childbearing. However, having a third child does not increase happiness.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Parenting|
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- ^Archibald, Jo-Ann, (2008). Indigenous Storywork: Educating The Heart, Mind, Body and Spirit. Vancouver, British Columbia: The University of British Columbia Press.[page needed]
"Dad", "Dads", "Fatherhood", and "Fathering" redirect here. For the journal, see Fathering (journal). For other uses, see Dad (disambiguation), Fatherhood (disambiguation), and Father (disambiguation).
A father is the male parent of a child. Besides the paternal bonds of a father to his children, the father may have a parental, legal, and social relationship with the child that carries with it certain rights and obligations. An adoptive father is a male who has become the child's parent through the legal process of adoption. A biological father is the male genetic contributor to the creation of the infant, through sexual intercourse or sperm donation. A biological father may have legal obligations to a child not raised by him, such as an obligation of monetary support. A putative father is a man whose biological relationship to a child is alleged but has not been established. A stepfather is a male who is the husband of a child's mother and they may form a family unit, but who generally does not have the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent in relation to the child.
The adjective "paternal" refers to a father and comparatively to "maternal" for a mother. The verb "to father" means to procreate or to sire a child from which also derives the noun "fathering". Biological fathers determine the sex of their child through a sperm cell which either contains an X chromosome (female), or Y chromosome (male). Related terms of endearment are dad (dada, daddy), papa, pappa, papasita, (pa, pap) and pop. A male role model that children can look up to is sometimes referred to as a father-figure.
The paternity rights of a father with regard to his children differ widely from country to country often reflecting the level of involvement and roles expected by that society.
- Paternity leave
Parental leave is when a father takes time off to support his newly born or adopted baby. Paid paternity leave first began in Sweden in 1976, and is paid in more than half of European Union countries. In the case of male same-sex couples the law often makes no provision for either one or both fathers to take paternity leave.
- Child custody
Fathers' rights movements such as Fathers 4 Justice argue that family courts are biased against fathers.
- Child support
Child support is an ongoing periodic payment made by one parent to the other; it is normally paid by the parent who does not have custody.
- Paternity fraud
An estimated 2% of British fathers experiences paternity fraud during a non-paternity event, bringing up a child they wrongly believe to be their biological offspring.
Role of the father
In almost all cultures fathers are regarded as secondary caregivers. This perception is slowly changing with more and more fathers becoming primary caregivers, while mothers go to work or in single parenting situations, male same-sex parenting couples.
- Fatherhood in the Western World
In the West, the image of the married father as the primary wage-earner is changing. The social context of fatherhood plays an important part in the well-being of men and all their children. In the United States 16% of single parents were men as of 2013.
- Importance of father or father-figure
Involved fathers offer developmentally specific provisions to their children and are impacted themselves by doing so. Active father figures may play a role in reducing behavior and psychological problems in young adults. An increased amount of father–child involvement may help increase a child's social stability, educational achievement, and their potential to have a solid marriage as an adult. Their children may also be more curious about the world around them and develop greater problem solving skills. Children who were raised with fathers perceive themselves to be more cognitively and physically competent than their peers without a father. Mothers raising children together with a father reported less severe disputes with their child.
The father-figure is not always a child's biological father and some children will have a biological father as well as a step- or nurturing father. When a child is conceived through sperm donation, the donor will be the "biological father" of the child.
Fatherhood as legitimate identity can be dependent on domestic factors and behaviors. For example, a study of the relationship between fathers, their sons, and home computers found that the construction of fatherhood and masculinity required that fathers display computer expertise.
Determination of parenthood
Roman law defined fatherhood as "Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant" ("The [identity of the] mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage vows indicate"). The recent emergence of accurate scientific testing, particularly DNA testing, has resulted in the family law relating to fatherhood experiencing rapid changes.
History of fatherhood
The link between sexual acts and procreation can be empirically identified, but is not immediately evident. Conception cannot be directly observed, whereas birth is obvious. The extended time between the two events makes it difficult to establish the link between them. It is theorised that some cultures have ignored that males impregnate females. Procreation was sometimes even considered to be an autonomous 'ability' of women: men were essential to ensure the survival and defence of the social group, but only women could enhance and reintegrate it through their ability to create new individuals. This gave women a role of primary and indisputable importance within their social groups.
This situation may have persisted throughout the Palaeolithic age. Some scholars assert that Venus figurines are evidence of this. During the transition to the Neolithic age, agriculture and cattle breeding became the core activities of a growing number of human communities. Breeding, in particular, is likely to have led women – who used to spend more time than men taking care of the cattle – to gradually discover the procreative effect of the sexual act between a male and a female.
For communities which looked at sexuality as simply a source of pleasure and an element of social cohesion, without any taboo character, this discovery must have led to some disruption. This would impact not only regulation of sexuality, but the whole political, social, and economic system. The shift in understanding would have necessarily taken a long time, but this would not have prevented the implications being relatively dramatic. Eventually, these implications led to the model of society which – in different times and shapes – was adopted by most human cultures.
Traditionally, caring for children is predominantly the domain of mothers, whereas fathers in many societies provide for the family as a whole. Since the 1950s, social scientists and feminists have increasingly challenged gender roles, including that of the male breadwinner. Policies are increasingly targeting fatherhood as a tool of changing gender relations.
Canadian Fatherhood in the Interwar Era
Fatherhood in Canada during the Interwar Period was a time of imposed change, led by state and expert advisement. A response to the impact of World War I on the male population, the Canadian government and citizens attempted to establish a “normalcy” of the family model which consisted of the stay-at-home mother and the breadwinner father as the ideal parental model. The challenge of this established normalcy was that few Canadians outside of the urban middle-class had ever seen this model in their households. Also, advice that was given to fathers at this time without sufficient recommendations on how to implement the standards of good fatherhood. Furthermore, expectations on fathers; and the actual practices of fathers were often different.
World War I's impact on fathers and fathers to be was devastating. Approximately 650,000 Canadian men served in the Armed Forces, and approximately 60,000 were killed, with another 60,000 bearing physical disabilities as a result of injuries. In this time period, very few programs or systems of support existed to help soldiers returning home. Because of this, many survivors of the War turned to drinking, distanced themselves from their families and lashed out at loved ones.
In response to this, government, academic and private institutions brought in experts in medicine, psychology, social work and education with the purpose of establishing a standard of good fathering. This advice was tailored to Anglo-Canadian working-class fathers, but was not written exclusively for them. According to these experts, a father was someone who was the main economic provider of the family, athletic, moral, devoted a portion of his time to his children and was a good husband to his wife. The expectation for fathers’ roles in the lives of their children was to be the authoritative figure of the household who showed love to his family by devoting the majority of his efforts to working and providing financially. A good father was also deemed to be someone who would bring other experts into the process of childrearing, including doctors, nurses, social workers and teachers.
Fathers were also expected to devote a period of time towards their children. Fathers were recommended to spend one hour per week with their sons. Most advice was directed towards the relationship between a father and his son, which encouraged temperance of a father’s response to questions and spending time with boys playing with and coaching them in sports. This amount of time was recognized to be short, but it was deemed better than not spending time with their children at all. Many labour organizations also argued for shorter work weeks as a means of increasing “family time,” for working-class fathers. Many fathers were unable to increase time spent with their children though due to long work days and work weeks.
Although expectations were high for fathers to be the breadwinners for their family, the economic nature of Canada and lack of support often led to differing results. The job market in the Great Depression often did not allow for fathers to provide for their families on a single income and receiving government assistance was seen as a 'personal failure' by many fathers. Since the identity of a father was so rooted in his ability to match the breadwinner model, the inability for a father to provide financially meant that many father's identities as successful members of the family were challenged. Also, although there was an expectation that fathers should be more gentle and temperate towards their children, fathers were often feared by their children.
In early human history there have been notable instances of patricide. For example:
- Tukulti-Ninurta I (r. 1243–1207 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by his own son after sacking Babylon.
- Sennacherib (r. 704–681 B.C.E.), Assyrian king, was killed by two of his sons for his desecration of Babylon.
- King Kassapa I (473 to 495 CE) creator of the Sigiriya citadel of ancient Sri Lanka killed his father king Dhatusena for the throne.
- Emperor Yang of Sui in Chinese history allegedly killed his father, Emperor Wen of Sui.
- Beatrice Cenci, Italian noblewoman who, according to legend, killed her father after he imprisoned and raped her. She was condemned and beheaded for the crime along with her brother and her stepmother in 1599.
- Lizzie Borden (1860–1927) allegedly killed her father and her stepmother with an axe in Fall River, Massachusetts, in 1892. She was acquitted, but her innocence is still disputed.
- Iyasus I of Ethiopia (1682–1706), one of the great warrior emperors of Ethiopia, was deposed by his son Tekle Haymanot in 1706 and subsequently assassinated.
In more contemporary history there have also been instances of father–offspring conflicts, such as:
- Chiyo Aizawa murdered her own father who had been raping her for fifteen years, on October 5, 1968, in Japan. The incident changed the Criminal Code of Japan regarding patricide.
- Kip Kinkel (1982- ), an Oregon boy who was convicted of killing his parents at home and two fellow students at school on May 20, 1998.
- Sarah Marie Johnson (1987- ), an Idaho girl who was convicted of killing both parents on the morning of September 2, 2003.
- Dipendra of Nepal (1971–2001) reportedly massacred much of his family at a royal dinner on June 1, 2001, including his father King Birendra, mother, brother, and sister.
- Christopher Porco (1983- ), was convicted on August 10, 2006, of the murder of his father and attempted murder of his mother with an axe.
- Baby Daddy – A biological father who bears financial responsibility for a child, but with whom the mother has little or no contact.
- Birth father – the biological father of a child who, due to adoption or parental separation, does not raise the child or cannot take care of one.
- Biological father – or just "Father" is the genetic father of a child
- Posthumous father – father died before children were born (or even conceived in the case of artificial insemination)
- Putative father – unwed man whose legal relationship to a child has not been established but who is alleged to be or claims that he may be the biological father of a child
- Sperm donor – an anonymous or known biological father who provides his sperm to be used in artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation in order to father a child for a third party female. Also used as a slang term meaning "baby daddy".
- Surprise father – where the men did not know that there was a child until possibly years afterward
- Teenage father/youthful father – Father who is still a teenager.
Non-biological (social and legal relationship)
- Adoptive father – the father who has adopted a child
- Cuckolded father – where the child is the product of the mother's adulterous relationship
- DI Dad – social/legal father of children produced via Donor Insemination (where a donor's sperm were used to impregnate the DI Dad's spouse)
- Father-in-law – the father of one's spouse
- Foster father – child is raised by a man who is not the biological or adoptive father usually as part of a couple.
- Mother's partner – assumption that current partner fills father role
- Mother's husband – under some jurisdictions (e.g. in Quebec civil law), if the mother is married to another man, the latter will be defined as the father
- Presumed father – Where a presumption of paternity has determined that a man is a child's father regardless of if he actually is or is not the biological father
- Social father – where a man takes de facto responsibility for a child, such as caring for one who has been abandoned or orphaned (the child is known as a "child of the family" in English law)
- Stepfather – a married non-biological father where the child is from a previous relationship
Fatherhood defined by contact level
- Absent father – father who cannot or will not spend time with his child(ren)
- Second father – a non-parent whose contact and support is robust enough that near parental bond occurs (often used for older male siblings who significantly aid in raising a child)
- Stay-at-home dad – the male equivalent of a housewife with child, where his spouse is breadwinner
- Weekend/holiday father – where child(ren) only stay(s) with father on weekends, holidays, etc.
For some animals, it is the fathers who take care of the young.
- Darwin's frog (Rhinoderma darwini) fathers carry eggs in the vocal pouch.
- Most male waterfowls are very protective in raising their offspring, sharing scout duties with the female. Examples are the geese, swans, gulls, loons, and a few species of ducks. When the families of most of these waterfowls travel, they usually travel in a line and the fathers are usually the ones guarding the offspring at the end of the line while the mothers lead the way.
- The female seahorse (hippocampus) deposits eggs into the pouch on the male's abdomen. The male releases sperm into the pouch, fertilizing the eggs. The embryos develop within the male's pouch, nourished by their individual yolk sacs.
- Male catfish keep their eggs in their mouth, foregoing eating until they hatch.
- Male emperor penguins alone incubate their eggs; females do no incubation. Rather than building a nest, each male protects his egg by balancing it on the tops of his feet, enclosed in a special brood pouch. Once the eggs are hatched however, the females will rejoin the family.
- Male beavers secure their offspring along with the females during their first few hours of their lives. As the young beavers mature, their fathers will teach them how to search for materials to build and repair their own dams, before they disperse to find their own mates.
- Wolf fathers help feed, protect, and play with their pups. In some cases, several generations of wolves live in the pack, giving pups the care of grandparents, aunts/uncles, and siblings, in addition to parents. The father wolf is also the one who does most of the hunting when the females are securing their newborn pups.
- Coyotes are monogamous and male coyotes hunt and bring food to their young.
- Dolphin fathers help in the care of the young. Newborns are held on the surface of the water by both parents until they are ready to swim on their own.
- A number of bird species have active, caring fathers who assist the mothers, such as the waterfowls mentioned above.
- Apart from humans, fathers in few primate species care for their young. Those that do are tamarins and marmosets. Particularly strong care is also shown by siamangs where fathers carry infants after their second year. In titi and owl monkeys fathers carry their infants 90% of the time with "titi monkey infants developing a preference for their fathers over their mothers".Silverback gorillas have less role in the families but most of them serve as an extra protecting the families from harm and sometimes approaching enemies to distract them so that his family can escape unnoticed.
Many species, though, display little or no paternal role in caring for offspring. The male leaves the female soon after mating and long before any offspring are born. It is the females who must do all the work of caring for the young.
- A male bear leaves the female shortly after mating and will kill and sometimes eat any bear cub he comes across, even if the cub is his. Bear mothers spend much of their cubs' early life protecting them from males. (Many artistic works, such as advertisements and cartoons, depict kindly "papa bears" when this is the exact opposite of reality.)
- Domesticated dog fathers show little interest in their offspring, and unlike wolves, are not monogamous with their mates and are thus likely to leave them after mating.
- Male lions will tolerate cubs, but only allow them to eat meat from dead prey after they have had their fill. A few are quite cruel towards their young and may hurt or kill them with little provocation. A male who kills another male to take control of his pride will also usually kill any cubs belonging to that competing male. However, it is also the males who are responsible for guarding the pride while the females hunt. However the male lions are the only felines that actually have a role in fatherhood.
- Male rabbits generally tolerate kits but unlike the females, they often show little interest in the kits and are known to play rough with their offspring when they are mature, especially towards their sons. This behaviour may also be part of an instinct to drive the young males away to prevent incest matings between the siblings. The females will eventually disperse from the warren as soon as they mature but the father does not drive them off like he normally does to the males.
- Horse stallions and pig boars have little to no role in parenting, nor are they monogamous with their mates. They will tolerate young to a certain extent, but due to their aggressive male nature, they are generally annoyed by the energetic exuberance of the young, and may hurt or even kill the young. Thus, stud stallions and boars are not kept in the same pen as their young or other females.
Finally, in some species neither the father nor the mother provides any care.
- ^HUMAN GENETICS, MENDELIAN INHERITANCE retrieved 25 February 2012
- ^What is paternity leave?
- ^Mapped: Paid paternity leave across the EU...which countries are the most generous? Published by The Telegraph, 18 April 2016
- ^Fathers 4 Justice take their fight for rights across the Atlantic Published by The Telegraph, 8 May 2005
- ^One in 50 British fathers unknowingly raises another man's child Published by The Telegraph, April 6, 2016
- ^Garfield, CF, Clark-Kauffman, K, David, MM; Clark-Kauffman; Davis (Nov 15, 2006). "Fatherhood as a Component of Men's Health". Journal of the American Medical Association. 19 (19): 2365. doi:10.1001/jama.296.19.2365.
- ^"Facts for Features". Archived from the original on April 24, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
- ^Children Who Have An Active Father Figure Have Fewer Psychological And Behavioral Problems
- ^United States. National Center for Fathering, Kansas City, MO. Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. A Call to Commitment: Fathers' Involvement in Children's Learning. June 2000
- ^Golombok, S; Tasker, F; Murray, C. "Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: family relationships and the socioemotional development of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers". J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 38: 783–91. doi:10.1111/j.1469-7610.1997.tb01596.x. PMID 9363577.
- ^Children raised in fatherless families from infancy: a follow-up of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers at early adolescence
- ^Ribak, Rivka (2001). ""Like immigrants": negotiating power in the face of the home computer". New media & society. 3 (2): 220–238. doi:10.1177/1461444801003002005.
- ^James George Frazer, The Golden Bough, vol. 5-6, Robarts, Toronto, 1914
- ^Jean Markale, La femme Celt/Women of the Celts, Paris, London, New York, 1972
- ^ abJean Przyluski, La Grande Déesse, Payot, Paris, 1950
- ^Jacques Dupuis, Au nome du pére. Une histoire de la paternité, Lo Rocher, 1987
- ^Margaret Mead, Male and female, William Morrow & C., New York, 1949
- ^Bjørnholt, M. (2014). "Changing men, changing times; fathers and sons from an experimental gender equality study"(PDF). The Sociological Review. 62 (2): 295–315. doi:10.1111/1467-954X.12156.
- ^Commachio, Cynthia 'A Postscript for Father': Defining a New Fatherhood in Interwar Canada, Canadian Historical Review 78, September 1997, pg. 391
- ^Edwards, An Old-Fashioned Father, Maclean's, 1 March 1934, 22
- ^Pines, We Want Perfect Parents, Chanteline, Sept. 1928, 31; Dr W.S. Hall, The Family and Family Life, Canadian Mentor 7, 1925.
- ^Blatz, W.E. Bott, H.M, Parents and the Preschool Child Toronto: J.M. Dent 1928, pg. 224-5
- ^MacMurchy, Mother Ottawa: King's Printer, 1928, pg. 15-16,
- ^Letters from a Schoolmaster, Maclean's, 15 April 1938, 43
- ^Letters from a Schoolmaster, Maclean's, 15 Feb. 1938,
- ^Commachio, "A Postscript for Fathers," pg. 404
- ^Palmer, B. and Kealey, G. Dreaming of What Might Be: The Knights of Labour in Ontario Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1982, 318;
- ^Changes in the Cost of Living in Canada from 1913 to 1937, Labour Gazette, June 1937, pg. 819-21
- ^Commachio, Cynthia 'A Postscript for Father': Defining a New Fatherhood in Interwar Canada, Canadian Historical Review 78, September 1997, pg. 394
- ^ abFernandez-Duque, E; Valeggia, CR; Mendoza, SP (2009). "Biology of Paternal Care in Human and Nonhuman Primates". Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 38: 115–30. doi:10.1146/annurev-anthro-091908-164334.
- ^Mendoza, SP; Mason, WA (1986). "Parental division of labour and differentiation of attachments in a monogamous primate (Callicebus moloch)". Anim. Behav. 34: 1336–47. doi:10.1016/s0003-3472(86)80205-6.
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- Inhorn, Marcia C.; Chavkin, Wendy; Navarro, José-Alberto, eds. (2015). Globalized fatherhood. New York: Berghahn. ISBN 9781782384373. Studies by anthropologists, sociologists, and cultural geographers -
- Kraemer, Sebastian (1991). "The Origins of Fatherhood: An Ancient Family Process". Family Process. 30 (4): 377–392. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1991.00377.x. PMID 1790784.
- Diamond, Michael J. (2007). My father before me : how fathers and sons influence each other throughout their lives. New York: W.W. Norton. ISBN 9780393060607.
- Collier, Richard (2013). "Rethinking men and masculinities in the contemporary legal profession: the example of fatherhood, transnational business masculinities, and work-life balance in large law firms". Nevada Law Journal, special issue: Men, Masculinities, and Law: A Symposium on Multidimensional Masculinities Theory. William S. Boyd School of Law. 13 (2): 7.