The Myths and Barriers That Keep Men from Being the Fathers They Want to Be
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A wide-ranging, cool-headed response to the current predilection for dissing all the dads. Although the tide may be turning, there is still a strong tendency in the media and elsewhere to blame fathers for much of what is wrong with the American family: “deadbeat dad” is a favorite epithet, absent fathers a prevalent image. Parke (Psychology/Univ. of Calif., Riverside; Fathers, 1981) and Brott (The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the Toddler Years, not reviewed) set out to correct those prejudices, plus other negative mythic notions about the paterfamilias. A prevalent assumption: Though it’s good to have a father around, it’s still not so important to the child’s development. Contradicting this, the authors cite studies suggesting that not only do teenagers with involved fathers tend to stay the course in school, getting better grades, but fathers who play with their children from the earliest years significantly influence intellectual and emotional development. Other myths reassessed include the idea that fathers are inferior caretakers, that they—re dangerous or even abusive, and that they—re lazy and irresponsible—as well as bumbling and useless. Analyzing both the men’s and women’s movements, Parke and Brott conclude that neither is getting across the message that “fathers matter.” Moreover, they argue, women’s organizations have been particularly damaging to the cause with their embrace of such tactics as opposing joint custody. The final chapter lists the sometimes deceptively simple actions that men, women, and their communities can take to encourage fathering. An important step in illuminating many of the issues—ignorance, false assumptions, and power struggles—that hold men back from full participation in raising their children. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 25th, 1999
ISBN: 0-395-86041-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998


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