Friday, March 03, 2006

Do Men Change Diapers? - International Cultural Notions of Fatherhood

From Ash:

And lastly, a little from around the world . . . .

In Belgium, despite ongoing publicity campaigns highlighting the "New Man" and the "New Father," Belgian fathers still see their role in the family as the breadwinner – even though less than 25 percent of couples in Belgium actually follow that traditional model. And while Belgian fathers are becoming more emotionally involved and expressive with their children, only a minority are actually take an equal or more share in actually raising the child.

In the Netherlands, young married couples seem to be sharing household responsibilities more or less equally at first, but "[t]he moment they become a family, the equal sharing of tasks comes to an end. . . . The most prevalent pattern is that of a family where the father is working full-time and the mother is working for an extra income that, in most cases, amounts to a half-time job or less."

Of children in Cuba being raised by single mothers, 85 percent of the children's fathers were either completely or partially estranged from the mother and child, according to a 1980s study. 56 percent of the mothers couldn't even tell you where the father of their children lived.

Looking forward to when the kid's 18? Try "never" -- In Iran, fathers are expected to support their children until the end of their lives. Financially, he may at some point stop being the provider, but emotionally, he never does.

In China, the cultural concept of parenting is expressed in axioms such as "strict father, kind mother," and that "men take care of things outside the family, whereas women take care of things inside the family." But the reality is more complicated than that. Chinese fathers are thought of as more disciplinarian than they actually are, while their marriages are becoming increasingly companionate. And Chinese parents actually have a more equal division of household labor than Western couples -- largely due to the universal work policies put in place during the Communist era.


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