Fathers want to convey affection to their child

Fathers want to convey affection to their child

VIt is particularly important for parents in Germany to raise their children with empathy and understanding. They see the most important task as showing affection and spending time with their child. At the same time, many fathers do not live up to these wishes. Irrespective of whether and to what extent they are employed, in which sector and in which position they work – the demands of fathers and their actual actions diverge.

This is the result of the study “You don’t need to be Superheroes’ – Insights into the diverse life situations of fathers”. It was carried out by a team of social scientists led by Kim Bräuer (TU Braunschweig) and Kai Marquardsen (FH Kiel). The study consisted of several pillars: 2200 fathers answered online questionnaires, 55 fathers took part in in-depth interviews. Fathers’ Instagram profiles were also examined. In addition to legal and biological fathers, the research team also included foster fathers, fathers in co-parenting constellations and homosexual father couples.

As can be seen from the study, the respondents have detached themselves from the image of the father as the breadwinner. Only around twelve percent of them consider it their most important task to offer the family financial security. Most fathers, on the other hand, strive to instill in their child social-emotional values ​​such as affection. Some of the interviewees criticize their own fathers in this context as being “too assertive”, “absent” and “too busy with work”. They use their fathers as “negative role models” and emphasize that they would deliberately act differently if they were fathers.

Almost 85 percent of fathers work 40 hours or more per week, while almost three quarters of the other parents do not work or work a maximum of 30 hours per week. Despite this, almost every second father assumes that he is just as much concerned with family matters of childcare as the other parent. Only every tenth father takes on most of the family work. These are primarily fathers who have stopped working or reduced their working hours in order to have more time for their families and caring for their children.

Fathers and mothers feel under pressure

Dissatisfaction is caused by the fact that fathers experience a conflict between professional, family and social tasks. Only a third of those surveyed believe they have enough time with their children. Three quarters of fathers say their job influences their fatherhood. The majority of them (79 percent) think this is happening in a negative way. “The economic pressure in the families is relatively high. At the same time, parents feel the pressure to give everything at work, in the family and in the social environment,” says Kai Marquardsen. That leads to overload. “There are parallels to the mother as an all-rounder who has to be successful at work and at the same time lovingly looks after the children and their relatives,” says Kim Bräuer. The sociologist concludes from the data that motherhood and fatherhood are dissolving to a certain extent – ​​towards parenthood, which is under heavy strain.

According to the study, the extent to which fathers succeed in realizing their ideals of fatherhood depends on several factors, including whether children can be reliably cared for in institutions. The flexible working hours also play a role. Fathers who work far away from the family or who work shifts at fixed times find the working conditions stressful. Some fathers are unsure whether superiors will support them getting more involved in the family. In the interviews, employees in the financial sector see themselves as inhibited by the pressure to perform, while the self-employed report fears about their existence.

The study reveals a clear change in the values ​​of many fathers. It is less clearly reflected on the level of action, partly because many families cannot afford for the father to take parental leave. “In most cases, whether fathers decide to take parental leave is a financial question,” says Kai Marquardsen. The research team is therefore in favor of family policy reforms. In Sweden, for example, fathers are not financially disadvantaged by parental leave.

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