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How Fathers Balance Work and Family in the 21st Century

Gayle Kaufman

Publication Year: 2013

“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 Kaufman is Professor of Sociology at Davidson College in North Carolina. 

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x

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ONE: Introduction: More Dads at the Bus Stop

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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...

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TWO: Becoming a Father

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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...

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THREE: Work-Family Dilemmas

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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 fulltime 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...

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FOUR: “Old” Dads

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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 ...

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FIVE: “New” Dads and Partial Solutions

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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...

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SIX: Superdads

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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 ...

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SEVEN: Single Superdads

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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...

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EIGHT: Conclusion

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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...

Appendix: Studying Fathers

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pp. 223-228


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pp. 229-240


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pp. 241-258


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pp. 259-263

About the Author

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p. 264-264

E-ISBN-13: 9780814749173
E-ISBN-10: 0814749151
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814749159
Print-ISBN-10: 0814749151

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013