Fathers make an important contribution when they stay at home as primary caregiver for their children – but they continue to face major social hurdles and stigmas, according to Flinders University researchers in a new book, Men Caregiving and the Media: The Dad Dilemma, which examines why the relationship between caregiving and masculinity is seldom celebrated.
Fathers who stay at home as primary caregiver continue to face major social hurdles and stigmas
Dr Sarah Hunter, from the Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, says stay-at-home fathers want to talk more about their caring experiences and build their parenting knowledge, but prevailing stigmas limit this activity – and such attitudes need to swiftly change.
Promoting positive representations of men who take on the primary caregiving role
Co-author Professor Damien Riggs, a regular contributor to Psychology Today, wants to promote positive representations of men who take on the primary caregiving role. He says the new book addresses many of the challenges in the context of how other people think about masculinity and care work.
We have found that men are still often compelled to justify why they are staying at home,” says Dr Hunter, adding that community perceptions need to change.
“We need to normalize men providing care for their children”
“We need to normalize men providing care for their children. We need less ‘house husbands’, and more routine, everyday representations of men loving, caring for, and raising their children.
“Normalising men’s role as primary caregivers helps to reduce stigma, thus allowing for the development of strategies that seek to engage men as parents.
Need to think differently about how we understand care work
“It is no longer enough to praise men for taking on what has traditionally been framed as ‘women’s work’. Instead, we need to think differently about how we understand care work. “Therefore, we also need to acknowledge that care work is gendered: women do most of the household and childcare labor and the expectation that women provide such labor for free needs to change.”
It is assumed that fathers want advice and practical guidance on how to be a father – but these assumptions are underpinned by gender norms, and fathers actually also want space to talk and debrief about their own experiences.
We undermine and hold men back in their caregiving capabilities due to outdated “gender norms”
As a society, we undermine and hold men back in their caregiving capabilities due to how we view them. Gender norms impact on the support made available to fathers – so the main takeaway from our workshop is that fathering needs new types of support to be truly effective,” said Dr Sarah Hunter, Caring Futures Institute at Flinders University.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Love is Medicine Project docuseries, The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit, The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10-week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. You can follow Razi on social media: Facebook at Razi Berry, Instagram at Razi.Berry and join the Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health. Look for more, and listen to more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.