“New Fathers,” Gender Attitudes, and Father Involvement in American Families

Brittany S. McGill, University of Maryland

As gender roles have shifted toward greater overlap of men’s and women’s roles, “new fathers” are expected to be more equal parenting partners, nurturing children and providing both interactive and physical caregiving. While research has examined gender attitudes and their relationship to parenting, measures of gender attitudes typically focus on women. Yet, beliefs about men’s roles as fathers may be distinct from beliefs about women’s roles in the public sphere. Further, beliefs about fathers’ roles in particular may matter most for understanding fathering. This study uses the Child Development Supplement to the PSID to compare attitudes toward fathers’ and mothers’ roles and examine how those attitudes relate to father involvement in order to better understand “new father” attitudes and behavior. Results suggest that 1) attitudes towards men’s and women’s work and family roles are distinct, and 2) attitudes about the father’s role specifically matter most for understanding fathering behavior.

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Presented in Session 119: Gender Roles, Household Labor, and Parenting