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					Fatherhood
Graeme Russell Psychology Department Macquarie University
Fatherhood

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Overview
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Introduction
» The context of my presentation » Two fundamental propositions

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Views about fatherhood: self-reflection Summary of major findings
» » » » Involvement Impact Views of fathers Interventions

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Examples of policy and practice What next?

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Two critical processes
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Influence of fathering on fathers
– Often ignored – But critical pathway to change

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Influence of fathers on children and families
– This is where we tend to focus our attention – Common points of discussion:
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Show me that the impact on children is not negative Show me that the impact on children is positive

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Show me that fathers are essential

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My fundamental propositions
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Begin with the assumption that fathers and fathering are critical components of healthy family functioning
» We don’t need to justify this by “showing . . .” » Children, families, fathers, mothers know this!

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Fatherhood, like motherhood, is expressed in a diversity of ways. Need a better understanding of this diversity
» Culture » Family structure (separation, step fathers, fragile families) » Patterns of connection (fathering at a distance) etc

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Evaluating our own views about fathers Questions to ask
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What are the major difficulties and challenges experienced by fathers today? How is being a father today different from the experiences of the previous generation of fathers? What is a “good” father? What assumptions do I have about fathers? What can governments, institutions and practitioners do to encourage and sustain father-inclusive research, policy making and practice?

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The diversity of family life
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Parents are people too. Diversity of family contexts lead to “good” outcomes All children are different What makes a difference?
» Availability/accessibility (implies balance) » Responsibility & Commitment (implies follow-through) » Acceptance (implies attitude and behaviour)
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The diversity of issues for fathers today
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Adjusting to changed expectations
» Of self Of others

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Being a “good enough father” Taking responsibility Not taking responsibility Power, anger, violence, abuse Balancing distance and intimacy (being a friend?) Fathers as primary caregivers Gender issues
» Sons and daughters » Partner

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Separation and divorce (suicide) Staying connected to children: A significant number are not connected Balancing work/career and family
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Summary of research findings
(Michael Lamb)
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Fathers and mothers seem to influence their children in similar rather than dissimilar ways. The differences between mothers and fathers appear much less important than the similarities The characteristics of individual fathers -- such as their masculinity, intellect -- are much less important, formatively speaking, than are the characteristics of the relationships that they have established with their children
» This is true for fathers who live and are separated (day-to-day interaction is important for this)

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“Individual relationships are now often seen as less influential than the family context. . . . The absence of familial hostility is the most consistent correlate of child adjustment, whereas marital conflict is the most consistent and reliable correlate of child maladjustment.”
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Lamb conclusions continued
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Fathers play multiple roles in the family and their success in all these diverse roles influences the ways in which they affect their children’s adjustment and development The nature of paternal influences may vary substantially depending on individual and cultural values There is no single “father’s role” to which all fathers should aspire. Rather, a successful father, as defined in terms of his children’s development, is one whose role performance matches the demands and prescriptions of his socio-cultural and familial context. This means that high paternal involvement may have positive effects in some circumstances and negative effects in others. The same is true of low paternal involvement
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Major conclusions: Lewis & Warin a sample . .
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Fathers have always been involved with their children. Some men have always been reported as highly involved Fathers are the main carers of children when mothers are working Most men are neither superdads nor absentee fathers. There are large variations in what fathers do in families Most men say they enjoy having close relationships with their children. Fathers from a diversity of social and cultural backgrounds say that fathering is the most important part of their lives. A parent’s gender is far less important in affecting child development than broader qualities such as warmth, kindness, setting limits It is beneficial to a young child to be raised by more than one carer.

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Lewis & Warin continued
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Involvement around the time of the birth
» Many men “nest build” » Fathers who attend baby-care courses are more likely to take on more care later » Men feel deeply moved by the experience of childbirth » Mothers report fathers are their main source of support after the birth

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Lewis & Warin continued
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Babies and pre-school children
» Ability to cope with the demands of a new baby depends on the quality of the relationship between the mother and father (true for men and women) » There are no differences between men’s and women’s patterns of emotional arousal in response to their newborn » Fathers can be just as skilful at caring for babies as mothers » Fathers are as sensitive and responsive to their young children as mothers are » Babies become attached to both fathers and mothers -- depends on responding sensitively and providing fun and playful stimulation » Quality of time more important than quantity -- but . . . » Fathers and mothers give their children the same amount of affection » Babies usually “bond” as easily with fathers as with mothers

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Lewis & Warin continued
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Young children
» Fathers engage more in play » Some studies suggest that fathers help children develop social skills » Fathers often respond differently to sons and daughters -- engage in more physical play with sons » Fathers and mothers critical for development of gender identity -- but much is absorbed through wider culture

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Lewis & Warin continued
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Older children
» Higher levels of guidance and information from fathers linked to children reporting themselves to be more industrious, productive and caring members of society. » Adults with a strong commitment to others often report their fathers had been particularly influential on them » Children whose fathers offered kindness, care and warmth during primary school years, more likely to do well at secondary school » When fathers are involved with their children before age 11, children more likely to escape having a criminal record by age 21 » Despite public discourse, no evidence that father involvement is particularly beneficial to boys.

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Fatherhood in Australia
(1000 random sample+spouses+children+professionals)

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The bar has been lifted:
» Fathers expect more of themselves + others do too!! (children + spouses + community).

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Most fathers have got the message that they are important to their children.
» both to their sons and their daughters!

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Fathers of today spend more time (alone) with and are closer to their children than fathers of the previous generation
» US and European data indicated increase in time accessible and engagement (active interaction)

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Fatherhood in Australia Influence and competence
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Feel have most influence over
» Child’s self-control/self-discipline » Attitudes and values

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Feel most important aspect of fathering
» » » » Being accessible to children Guiding and teaching children Providing income/economic security Providing emotional support to children

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Competence and commitment
» 71% Feel very competent as a father » 97% say have a strong commitment to role as a father

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Fatherhood in Australia The challenges!
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Very satisfied with my role as father: 61% Do not have enough time for myself: 54% On average, would prefer to work 10 hours less than current 47 hours/week. Job and family life interfere with each other: 53% Very satisfied with life: 38% Workload/work commitments = major barrier to being involved as a parent. Greatest needs as a father:
» Workplace flexibility + support » Better access to advice/education
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Fatherhood and social policy?
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Recent Fatherhood Summit in the UK
» Burgess & Russell (2003)

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Analysis of policies in various countries in terms of
» Public discourse, eg., the gender contract » Employment
– Taxation – Parental leave, paternity leave, family leave, flexible work practices, workplace culture etc

» » » » 
Fatherhood

Health: child birth, child health, male health etc Education Separation and divorce Vulnerable children

Common theme: invisibility of fathers
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Two examples of working with fathers
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Key themes:
» Inclusiveness -- community and at workplace » Working with fathers where they are

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Men in families
» Antenatal and birth

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Men at work

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Intentions of Men in Families
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Recognise the importance of fathers to children and advantages of increasing both the motivation and skills of men to contribute positively to the well-being of their children. Aims to build upon networks established in antenatal classes The promotion of positive parenting and relationship skills through cooperative learning To act as an advocate for men Enhances the adoption of appropriate support services Key interventions: » Content and process in antenatal classes » “I’m a dad” bag etc. » On-going support and networking
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The views of fathers
are needed toand a picture. Graphics decompressor QuickTime™ see this Satisfied with family life Extremely satisfied with relationship with child Satisfied as a parent Feel competent as a parent Feel confident as a parent Understand my child 0 56 40 76 63 80 55 88 63 83 70 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Pre Post 90 73

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are needed toand a picture. Graphics decompressor QuickTime™ see this

What might have made a difference?
Extremely satisfied with antenatal classes Antenatal classes effective in preparing me to be a parent 7 22 26 17 42

Antenatal classes addressed my needs "a lot"

41 66 80 66 38 87

Men in families session in antenatal classes effective Message that fathers important from I'm a dad bag Attended reunion Maintained contact with group members Received Parentalk newsletter 0

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Pre Post

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Men at work The workplace as an opportunity
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An opportunity to engage fathers where they are: psychologically and physically Many organisations have work/life programs but few:
» Approach in an integrated way » Address broader issues of personal and relationship well-being » Focus on men/fathers

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Programs aligned with diversity, gender equity Note recent developments: programs for separated fathers in the workplace: “Staying connected”

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Men at Work Working with men where they are!
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Designed on the basis of:
» Our knowledge of the process of change
– For individuals, families, organisations

» Research findings on men, health, gender equity, relationships, nature of work, organisations.
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Evaluated
» Pre, post, six months later
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The program?
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Groups: 10 to 12 Session structure flexible:
» 4 x half-days » Two days

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Five modules
» » » » » Work/life balance Physical and psychological health Relationships (. . . at work) Fathering and mentoring Leading work/life: policy and practice
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Fatherhood

Many different processes used

Time Diary
T:  I:  M:  E:  S:
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Transition Time (Yellow) Individual Time with Children (Red) Marital, couple time (Green) Everyone time (Orange) Self Time (Brown)

Work Time: (Blue)
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Fatherhood: Challenges and Strengths
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Challenges
Taking the perspective of the child Communication Keeping work in perspective Being consistent; treating children the same Not taking sides in family tension Spending time Staying connected with your children Containing anger and being patient Doing what you say you will do Containing your expectations How to treat boys vs girls. Co-parenting; working things out with your partner.

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Strengths
Being able to say “I love you” to my children Showing affection Being open and available Being approachable Knowing my children; having some common ground Being a good teacher Believing in my children; accepting them for who they are Being calm and relaxed Knowing that no one is perfect Being truthful. 27

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Program is an enabler of outcomes for individuals, families and workplace
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Examples of workplace outcomes:
» Sustainable individual performance
– Energy and effectiveness – Resilience

» Relationship skills:
– Gender relationships – Support and Team building – Performance management

» Mentoring » Leadership » Effective work/life and diversity strategies
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Fatherhood

All enablers of sustainable organisational performance
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are needed toand a picture. Graphics decompressor QuickTime™ see this

Program Impact: Understanding of issues
Great d eal or complete understanding of work+family/life nee ds o f men 65 12 74 20 72 21 44

Great d eal or complete understanding of the impact work+family/life issue s have on personal well-being Great d eal or complete understanding of the impact work+family/life issue s have on re lationship well-being

work+family/life issue s have on organisational outco mes

16 30 Pre 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

0 Great d eal or complete understanding of the10 20 impact

Post

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Program Impact: Have the knowledge and skills to . . . Graphics decompressor are needed toand a picture. QuickTime™ see this
Achieve a b alance between work+family/life n eeds Have a high level of pe rsonal well-b eing Have a high quality relationship with spouse /partner Have a high quality relationship with child ren Be an effe ctive father 65 18 50 24 56 31 57 34 53 32 34 an effe ctive work+family/life strategy 14 30 Pre 40 50 60 70 80 Post 90 100 0 10 20 Ensure that you r work area has

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Program Impact: Changes in behaviour
are needed toand a picture. Graphics decompressor QuickTime™ see this
Changed behaviour at wo rk to redu ce n egative impact o n family/personal life Changed behaviour to improve rela tionship with spouse/partner Changed behaviour to improve rela tionship with childre n Changed behaviour at wo rk to increase job effectiveness 41 50 34

51

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44

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42 Changed behaviour in relation to workgroup 0 10 20 30 40 50 60

22 70 80 90 100

Some change Fair amount/grea t deal of change

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are needed toand a picture. Graphics decompressor QuickTime™ see this

The group process
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Disclosed true personal feelings, even if threatened or u npopular Talked about my weaknesse s 77

Talked about my own feelings and behaviour Tried out a behaviour that is new or acknowledged to be different from the past Honestly discussed opinions and feelings, even if threa tening or unpopular Talked about the rela tionship of self to another 0 10 20 30 40 50 % Yes 60 70 80

97

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84 90 100

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MADNESS for Men
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Spend one on one time with my wife on a regular basis and jog two times a week Take my wife out to dinner once a month; arrange for my parents to look after the children Walk with my wife daily Talk to my wife daily when I get home Take my family on a weekend outing Focus on my 21 year old son; go out to club with him once a week for a few beers. Talk to my daughter at bedtime every night; ask her about her day

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Take more of an interest in nutrition and reduce fat intake Eat fish three times a week Increase black time -- phone a friend each evening; do something with a friend on weekends Read 30 minutes a night Commit to better work hours; go home early at least 3 days a week Become more engaged in non-work stuff; take more control over my diet at home -- cook more Take the initiative to plan family social activities -- take more responsibility Learn to switch in (vs switch out) 33

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Madness for men
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Spend quality time with my wife, Wed, Thurs and Frid evenings Have a date with my wife every Wednesday night Finish doing family goals with my wife Spend half an hour each morning having a cuppa and talk to my wife. Plan local beach trip with my children three times a week Learn to laugh together Walk out of the place at 4 every day and convince my wife she should walk out at 5 rather than 6.

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Take a day off for the relationship in next four weeks. Agree on a suitable day with my wife Reduce chaos and stress at work: (a) make sure I take a lunch break and (b) delegate things Get back into bike riding: Sundays 1.5 hrs Lose 10 k in 10 weeks Jog every morning for 30 min

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10 ways for an organisation to become more father friendly
Encourage fathers to combine their careers with their family commitments by introducing flexible working conditions (that fathers feel comfortable in using).  Develop a Working Fathers Forum to get fathers to talk openly about issues that affect their lives. Provide advice and information about being a father.  Provide paid parental leave + actively encourage men to use this leave. In company newsletters, highlight fathers who take leave.  Introduce a Dad's Day at work: Encourage fathers to bring their children to see what they do.  Encourage opportunities for fathers to do some of their 35 Fatherhood work from home.
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10 ways continued
Encourage effective role models at the top: encourage management to take their fathering responsibilities seriously.  Enjoy the benefits of employing men who have a strong commitment to families, community, as well as their career.  Frame your company's profile as a father friendly employer in recruiting and advertising.  Consider the different needs of fathers at different stages of their careers and provide career flexibility.  Look for opportunities to affirm the role of fathers. 36 Fatherhood Establish links with community organisations that focus on
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Critically review assumptions and presumptions
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What next?

Fatherhood is expressed in a diversity of ways. Both women and men have the potential to be competent parents The majority of fathers have strong feelings towards their children. Under most circumstances children actively seek to know, identify with and have acceptance from their fathers, and benefit from fathers reciprocating in this relationship.
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What next:
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For research
» Develop father-inclusive theoretical and empirical models
– Take account of this in the review process

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For the purposes of policy and practice: Presume that:
» Mothers and fathers have shared responsibility for children » Mothers and fathers have equal rights to give and receive care and to have access to paid employment » Balance between paid work, family involvement and intimacy in relationships has potential benefits for the well-being of fathers, families and the community » Develop policies and practices that are
– inclusive of fathers – enable and sustain father-involvement and connections with children 38

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For service provision and practice
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What next?

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Develop father-inclusive approaches Focus on professional development Identify the needs of fathers Work with fathers where they are: » Physically, psychologically, feelings » Celebrate and affirm; reflect, share and learn Acknowledge that some fathers can experience difficulties in being assertive and finding the space to be involved in change Expect that fathers value sharing their concerns with other fathers. Focus on "what is in it for fathers?” (not guilt!) Acknowledge that many fathers have accepted the challenge!
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