Furthermore, when the father is engaged in parenting within the context of a positive coparenting relationship, maternal stress and role overload is reduced. Doing so overshadows his actual role as a loving available father in his own right. In many ways, fathers provide caregiving in a similar way as mothers Tissot et al. Indeed, a question answered in the affirmative in the early fatherhood literature was whether fathers are as nurturing and warm as mothers Parke, However, research has also demonstrated that there are differences between mothers and fathers both at the neuropsychological level Feldman, as well as the behavioral.
As compared to mothers, fathers of children younger than 2 years old, use toys less often and more often engage in physical games Yogman, ; Clarke-Stewart, ; Forbes et al. As documented by Yogman and Power , a greater amount of interference is observed in the interactions of fathers with their children, for example in the form of interrupting the self-driven behavior of the child by sudden tickling. In addition, fathers tend to engage less in pretend games Power, , and more often propose unconventional play, for example, by using objects in ways that are not typical or by teasing the child Alber-Labrell, Furthermore, fathers tend to excite their children more and soothe their children less than mothers Clarke-Stewart, Overall, fathers seem to promote the autonomy of their children, in particular during the early years Frascarolo, , and have a vision of their children that is more focused on the future Brachfeld-Child, ; Labrell, Thus, mothers and fathers are equally capable of looking after and satisfying the needs of their children, in different but complementary ways.
Fathers, for their part, encourage their children to go beyond their normal comfort zone, whereas, mothers tend to contain and reassure their children. It is therefore important for children to have a close relationship with not only their mother but also with their father, given the unique benefits of both.
At the same time, it is important to note that the previously mentioned research studies are slightly dated and merit replication as social norms and expectations evolve. As previously mentioned, the father plays an equally important role in coparenting, which is defined as the support parents provide each other in regards to the raising of their children. Coparenting is a pillar of family functioning and has a particular influence on the development of the child distinct to that of parenting Minuchin, ; McHale et Rasmussen, Coparenting that is characterized by warmth and cooperation predicts positive socioemotional development in the child Favez et al.
In contrast, coparenting that is characterized by competition and absence of support negatively influences child development Belsky et al. Furthermore, by observing parental interactions, the child constructs mental models of interaction, which will guide his or her future interactions with others. Van Egeren defines gatekeeping as the ways in which the mother regulates the involvement of the father or the access he has to the child.
Depending on the culture and personal history of the father, he can either choose to accept or not maternal gatekeeping. Although mothers traditionally have primary responsibility for children and are thus in a position to enact gatekeeping, fathers too can facilitate or obstruct the relationship between mother and child.
By not involving fathers in these services and more generally in the caretaking of their children, professionals demonstrate a form of restrictive gatekeeping towards fathers.
Such professional gatekeeping most likely results, in part, from professional respect for the traditional role of the mother as the primary caretaking parent for young children, reinforced by the over-representation of women in professions related to these young ages.
Yet it is clear that fathers—as part of the family system—play a part along with mothers and children in maintaining maladaptive family relationships and behaviors. Such maladaptive patterns may be problematic in and of themselves, leading to psychological and behavioral problems in children, or such patterns may impede problem-solving and pose an obstacle to treatment adherence e.
Furthermore, it is typically mothers who seek out services. Fathers are less often the ones asking for help and are also less accustomed to accepting it Featherstone, Moreover, in line with the fact that fathers are often the ones working full-time, the organization of the family and the division of domestic tasks remains somewhat organized along gender lines. Considering that mothers are the ones who are principally responsible for the care of their children, this might lead professionals to be less at ease with fathers and not to include fathers in child-related services.
Similarly, in some professional contexts, a number of administrative forms do not even mention the existence of the father except in his role as provider. In the situation where parents are not married, this lack of inclusion is exacerbated Turcotte, As a result when fathers do try to go beyond the basic assisting role and try to involve themselves directly in the caretaking of their child, they may feel scared of causing harm as a result of these contradicting psycho-social factors.
If the responsibility of involving fathers is left to mothers, the power of maternal gatekeeping is further reinforced — with the consequence that some may not invite fathers to participate.
According to Cowan et al. This may beg the question as to whether fathers were even invited to attend appointments. It would therefore be essential for the professionals to contact the father directly stressing the importance of his contribution to and influence on the development of the child, as well as his role in the clinical work. However, gentle persistence is needed to continue encouraging fathers to participate in professional situations.
The authors noted that although mothers may in some cases be legally responsible for the child, this does not justify the complete removal of father involvement. Further, they write, the discourse of professionals implicitly suggests the superiority of mothers as parents.
This attitude and consequent behavior constitutes the basis of professional gatekeeping. How does the child experience this exclusion of their father? Would the child not be led to discount the importance of his father? Further, if the mother sought help as a result of difficulties she observed with her child, restrictive professional gatekeeping towards the father might only reinforce the family systems root of the problem in some families.
Certainly in many cases after separation or divorce, inclusion of both parents in appointments may lead to greater conflict and difficulty. On the one hand, providers should receive training in ways to defuse and manage such conflict by maintaining a focus on the best interest of the child.
On the other, the best interest of the child may require that come couples who are entrenched in hostile conflict not attend appointments together. For example, in Switzerland, according to the law, fathers receive a paternity leave of one day; in April , the National Council rejected two weeks of paternity leave.
It would be of benefit to involve fathers in consultations and in all matters concerning their children whether or not they live in the same house as their children , not only for the specific benefits this can have for the development of the child, for the coparenting relationship, and for father engagement in parenting, but also for mothers. The involvement of fathers is beneficial for him whether he has difficulties with fatherhood or not, but especially in the case that he does.
Thus, if a father has, or has had, difficulties with his respective father or with fatherhood, restricting his involvement will not facilitate the construction of a relationship with his child. Put pictures of fathers on the walls of waiting rooms and including fathers in informational brochures and publicity related to family services. Systematically invite fathers to consultations whether they live in the same house as their child or not, except in the case of potential violence.
Furthermore, it is of utmost importance to raise the awareness of professionals regarding the issue of paternal gatekeeping as well as encourage professionals to seek training in this domain in order to better equip them for interventions that include the father Plouffe, In regards to therapies, fathers in general may appreciate different qualities in the providers that mothers.
Whereas mothers may appreciate an emotional connection with a therapist, many fathers tend to be appreciative of a therapist style that is active and that provides direct guidance. Carr et al.
- Fathers and Adolescents: Developmental and Clinical Perspectives by Shmuel Shulman;
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The absence of fathers in child-related services, considered to be normal and benign, does not take into account the pain that one can feel when confronted with absence cf. And such attitudes on all sides reinforce restrictive gatekeeping of fathers. Nevertheless, an important source of motivation for fathers to be involved in the lives of their children comes from the belief that it would benefit their child.
Such promotive professional gatekeeping does not subscribe in any way to the reestablishing of the patriarchy of past centuries, but rather promotes engaged fathering and the development of cohesive coparenting, the foundation of the family. Alber-Labrell, F. Belsky, J. Coparenting, parenting, and early emotional development. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 74 , Bergonnier-Dupuy, G.
Enfance, 50 3 , Brachfeld-Child, S. Carr, A. The inclusion of fathers in family therapy: A research based perspective. Clarke-Stewart, K. Child development, 49 2 , Cowan, P. The understanding and study of fathers has traditionally assumed that fathers, compared to mothers, are less involved with their children. Originally published in Fathers and Adolescents presents a different approach that focuses on the distinctive role of fathers in the lives of their adolescents, especially in their role in adolescents' attainment of developmental t The understanding and study of fathers has traditionally assumed that fathers, compared to mothers, are less involved with their children.
Originally published in Fathers and Adolescents presents a different approach that focuses on the distinctive role of fathers in the lives of their adolescents, especially in their role in adolescents' attainment of developmental tasks. Drawing on a variety of disciplines, the authors' examine the relationships of fathers to their adolescents in the context of a changing society.
They find that fathers interact in ways that are different from those of mothers, but that are important for both normal and disturbed adolescent development. Psychopathological, aggressive and incestuous behaviour is considered as well as the role of the father in more ideal circumstances.
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