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Nurturing, breadwinning, and upbringing: paternal responsibilities by Finnish men in early fatherhood

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In the Nordic countries, including Finland, gender-balanced distribution of childcare is both the goal of family policies and nowadays also a cultural norm of parenting. Thus, in most families, the father, along with the mother, plays a considerable role in hands-on care. This study captures and analyzes paternal responsibilities as narrated by Finnish fathers. It draws on 32 interviews with 16 fathers conducted during the first 3 years of their fatherhood, and applies the method of narrative inquiry, in which narratives are understood as constructors of knowledge. The analysis yielded nurturing, breadwinning, and upbringing, framed by the levels of everyday duties and comprehensive commitments, as the constituents of paternal responsibility. Probably as an outcome of the Finnish gender-equal and familistic societal atmosphere, nurturing played the focal role in the men's accounts. On the conceptual level, the results support the view that the dimension of responsibility is wholly embedded in fathering practices.
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Keywords: Finland; Finlande; L'engagement paternel; Narrativité; Partage des responsabilités parentales; Responsabilité paternel; fatherhood; gendered parenting; masculine care; narrative inquiry; parental responsibility

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Family Research Centre, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland

Publication date: July 3, 2014

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