Fathers in Germany feel inadequate, study reveals
Over the past 50 years, fatherhood in Germany has changed radically. Now, with dads taking on more childcare responsibilities, many feel they don’t do enough in their parental role.
Fathers in Germany don’t meet their own standards
Work, Kita, cook, clean, repeat: a new study by the Technical University of Braunschweig has revealed that fatherhood is being hit with the have-it-all myth. Many dads feel like they don’t live up to their own expectations of good fatherhood.
While “compatibility [with their own expectations] is a big issue”, sociologist and researcher Kim Bräuer believes that many men in Germany have detached from the idea that their most important role as fathers is to economically support their families.
According to the study, which considered a nationwide online survey and 55 qualitative interviews with fathers in heterosexual and queer families, only 12 percent believe that providing income and financial security is their most important role in the family unit. Study participants were of the opinion that a good father can better be characterised by the time and affection they give their family.
According to Bräuer this feeling of inadequacy doesn’t just stem from being self-critical about the amount of time that fathers spend with their children, but also that many dads feel they cannot demonstrate a healthy social life to their children by seeing their friends, being involved in groups and caring for their own parents.
German dads are critical of their own fathers
That fathers are now expected to be more involved in caring for their children than just one or two generations previous, means that many dads in Germany are now critically reflecting on the role their fathers played, or did not play, in their own upbringing. Many participants in Bräuer’s study did not see their own fathers as role models.
What's more, many respondents said that they used their fathers as examples of a “negative role model” for fatherhood and characterised their father's role in their childhood as “absent” or “too preoccupied with work”.
For Bräuer, one solution could be to assume fathers have an active role in bringing up their own children. “It would be possible to actively ask fathers to be parent spokespersons, to offer father and child swimming lessons or actively address them in parent chats,” said Bräuer. Policy such as Germany’s planned extension of paid partner leave should also equalise care expectations among parents.
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