chapter  4
Fathers: Cultural and Ecological Perspectives
WithRoss D. Parke, Jessica Dennis, Mary L. Flyr, Kristie L. Morris, Melinda S. Leidy, Thomas J. Schofield
Pages 42

For decades parenting was typically operationalized as mothering. A variety of factors contributed to this narrow definition of parenting including assumptions about the critical caregiving role of mothers, the presumed inadequacy and disinterest of fathers in caregiving activities, and at least historically, the relatively greater breadwinner role assumed by fathers. Much has changed since Lamb (1975) made his famous pronouncement that fathers were the “forgotten contributors to child development” (p. 245). In this century, fathers are clearly recognized as central players in the family and are no longer relegated to the socialization sidelines. The goal of this chapter is to highlight the father’s parenting role and to examine the determinants and consequences of fathers’ roles in the family for children, for mothers and for fathers themselves. Since this topic covers a relatively vast terrain, a caveat is in order. Our review will be selective with the goals being to highlight both major advances and remaining puzzles and problems that still confront this relatively recent domain. For comprehensive overviews of this topic, a variety of recent chapters and books are available (Coltrane, 1996; Lamb, 2004; Parke, 1996, 2002; Parke & Brott, 1999; Tamis-LeMonda & Cabrera, 2002).