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Superdads: How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century

Gayle Kaufman
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Look! There in the playground -- with the stroller and diaper bag! It's Superdad! Yes, it's Superdad - the most involved fathers in American history. And with this careful, compassionate and also critical group portrait, Gayle Kaufman has finally told their story. If you think men aren't changing - or if you think they somehow get neutered if they are changing - you need to read this book. - Michael Kimmel, author of Guyland In an age when fathers are spending more time with their children than at any other point in the past, men are also facing unprecedented levels of work-family conflict. How do fathers balance their two most important roles - that of father and that of worker? In Superdads, Gayle Kaufman captures the real voices of fathers themselves as they talk about their struggles with balancing work and family life. Through in-depth interviews with a diverse group of men, Kaufman introduces the concept of superdads, a group of fathers who stand out by making significant changes to their work lives in order to accommodate their families. They are nothing like their fathers, old dads who focus on their traditional role as breadwinner, or even some of their peers, so-called new dads who work around the increasing demands of their paternal roles without really bucking the system. In taking their family life in a completely new direction, these superdads challenge the way we think about long-held assumptions about men's role in the family unit. Thought-provoking and heartfelt, Superdads provides an overview of an emerging trend in fatherhood and the policy solutions that may help support its growth, pointing the way toward a future society with a more feasible approach to the work-family divide.Gayle Kaufmanis Professor of Sociology at Davidson College in North Carolina.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-4917-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ONE Introduction: More Dads at the Bus Stop
    (pp. 1-23)

    A few days ago I was at the afternoon bus stop. The bus from the elementary school comes anytime between 3:50 and 4:05, dropping off somewhere around 15 children. What I noticed this day was that there were more fathers at the bus stop than mothers. This is not completely unusual for our block, but rather you could see it coming if you paid attention to the ups and downs of the market and the individual job changes within this particular group of fathers. I suppose I should qualify my observation by noting that two of the fathers are professors,...

  5. TWO Becoming a Father
    (pp. 24-48)

    Today’s fathers are expected to do more than fathers in times past. Surely, fathers have had different responsibilities throughout history—moral teachers in the 17th and 18th century, economic providers in the 19th and 20th century—and to some extent these expectations remain.¹ But today fathers are also expected to be there, present from day one. Of course, most new fathers are present at the birth of their child.² But men are expected to be more actively involved in caring for their children as well, and fathers do spend more time with their children now than in the past.³ Indeed,...

  6. THREE Work-Family Dilemmas
    (pp. 49-75)

    A recurring theme when I talked to fathers was that they think of themselves as having two full-time jobs. It is obvious that being employed full-time would count as a full-time job, but it is more unexpected that these fathers think of their role as father as being a full-time job. This harks back to Arlie Hochschild’s notion of the second shift,¹ only this time it is men who think they are coming home to a second job. In contrast to the second shift that women face, men spend more of their home time engaged with children, with housework a...

  7. FOUR “Old” Dads
    (pp. 76-105)

    Matt, a 46-year-old high school graduate, works as a delivery driver for a large company. He has been with the company for almost 30 years, delivering packages for about 20 years. He considers it to be a physically demanding job, but one that he enjoys as it allows him to meet and develop relationships with a lot of different people. But he works long hours and is away from home about 12 hours each day once travel and lunch are factored in, leaving home around 7:30 in the morning and returning around 7:30 at night. A typical workday begins with...

  8. FIVE “New” Dads and Partial Solutions
    (pp. 106-140)

    While some fathers stick to a more traditional view of their role as father, most of the fathers I talked with see themselves as involved dads. They are not completely dismissive of their monetary contributions to their family, but they do not define themselves as breadwinners. With a continued sense of financial responsibility for their families and a desire to be highly involved in their children’s lives, these “new” dads make an effort to combine their work and family roles in a way that the “old” dads do not. Whereas the old dads tended to maintain the same work schedules...

  9. SIX Superdads
    (pp. 141-171)

    While much of the previous research on fathers and employment finds that fathers work more hours than men without children do, supporting an emphasis on the breadwinner role, there is mounting evidence that the relationship between parenthood and work hours is not so simple.¹ Some studies show that the effect of a first child on a father’s work hours has weakened among more recent cohorts of fathers.² Other studies show that married fathers do not increase their work hours.³ Furthermore, other studies show that some groups of fathers, namely, men with continuously employed wives and egalitarian fathers, actually reduce their...

  10. SEVEN Single Superdads
    (pp. 172-194)

    The number of single fathers is increasing at a fast rate. Much of the literature on single fathers focuses on nonresidential fathers.¹ However, the growth of residential single fathers also deserves attention. In 1970, there were 400,000 single fathers, while in 2010, the number was up to 2.8 million. Just in the past decade, the number of single-father families has increased by 27 percent.² Men now constitute 19 percent of single residential parents.³ Men are more involved in raising their children and as an extension more interested in custody following divorce.⁴ This is paired with changing custody preferences in the...

  11. EIGHT Conclusion
    (pp. 195-222)

    Twenty years after Arlie Hochschild proclaimed that there was a “stalled revolution” when it came to women’s rights and gender equality, Paula England spoke of an “uneven and stalled” revolution.² Both suggest that the change in gender roles that has occurred has been asymmetrical. Women’s roles have changed dramatically, as they currently earn more college degrees than men do and compose about half the workforce.³ Yet, while women have entered previously “male” spheres, there has been much less movement of men into “female” spheres. Thus, gendered roles continue to inhabit relationships between men and women, and England states, “Women are...

  12. APPENDIX: Studying Fathers
    (pp. 223-228)
  13. NOTES
    (pp. 229-240)
    (pp. 241-258)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 259-263)
    (pp. 264-264)