Conference proceedings: Father Involvement Research Alliance

In October, 2008 the Father Involvement Research Alliance (FIRA) held a conference. The theme for the conference was Father Involvement 2008: Diversity, Visibility, Community. Presentations from keynotes, papers and other sessions are now available on the FIRA website.
Of interest to readers include the following (descriptions taken from the FIRA webpage):

Explaining Japanese Exceptionalism in Father Involvement by Scott North

In Japan’s households, most women and nearly half of men now disagree with the traditional division of labour. Practices, too, are changing: even women with small children are increasingly likely to remain in the work force. Social scientists hypothesize that changing gender norms and women’s increased income will lead to a more equal division of family work. But Japanese women still do about 90% of household labor, and, despite a visible increase in fathers’ child-centered activities, Japanese husbands still do far less than men in other societies. How does Japan’s division of family work remain grossly unequal? This paper presents evidence from the lives of a purposive sample of dual-income households with young children. Observations and conversational interviews reveal in the participant’s own words, how gender power is manifest in spousal social action and negotiations over who-does-what. The lingering influence of customary norms of male domination is related to an under-appreciated dimension of the problem: falling Japanese birthrates have transformed the male demographic so that 3/4 of men between 20 and 49 are first sons, a special position in Japanese family life that symbolizes the continued intergenerational transmission of male primacy.

Parental Engagement in Sudanese and Russian Newcomer Families by David Este

Immigrant and refugee male adults come to Canada with multiple identities, one of which may be being a father. Until very recently, research on refugee and immigrant men as fathers is quite limited in the Canadian context. Through a qualitative research study involving in-depth interviews with 20 Sudanese refugee and 14 Russian immigrant men in a large urban centre in Canada, this paper examines their perceptions and experiences as fathers. Insights on the meaning of fatherhood, values that guide their behaviour, their aspirations for and interactions with their children and the challenge they face as fathers in Canadian society form the specific content that will be presented. Implications for human service providers such as social work practitioners will also be discussed.

Fathering Experiences of Immigrant/Refugee Ethiopian Men by Admascu Tachble

Immigrant fathers have left familiar and cultural settings of their own and pass through a long process of adapting to a new context that requires reorganizing their lives in the new environment. The adaptation process may demand these fathers to make adjustments to their perceived role of a father. These fathers may be ill equipped and appear to be struggling to discharge their roles within the resettlement environment. Despite the increasing number of newcomers from diverse backgrounds to Canada in recent years, there is a limited research-based information and guiding professional literature that explores how immigrant and refugee men practice fatherhood. …this paper examines their perceptions and experiences of fatherhood in Canadian society. Insights on the parenting styles and obstacles facing these immigrant fathers as well as the opportunities and the aspirations they have for their children in Canada will be discussed.

Effects of Culture and Ethnicity on Father Involvement by Iraj Poureslami

The primary objective of this research was to examine how cultural, economic, and attitudinal barriers may impact fathers’ ability to engage in their children’s lives and how to improve measurement tools for studying fathering and related issues in ethnocultural communities. Four major findings emerged from this study. First, newcomer fathers were disproportionately under-employed. This was associated with being less supportive of their children than employed fathers. Second, fathers wre less likely to be aware of their children’s emotional and social life inside and outside of the home than were their wives. Thir, mothers were not aware of the life and work hardships and emotional distress their husbands reported. Finally, the Canadian version of the Achenbach Scales may not be entirely suitable to assess children’s health and well-being status in ethnocultural communities. Findings from this study support the need for developing programs and services to help support newcomer fathers in their parenting role without compromising their traditional family roles within their culture.