State social policies often welcome and praise, sometimes even stimulate, fathers´ involvement in caring and nurturing status in the family. So do most women. The paper elaborates several sociological qualitative empirical studies exploring nurturing fathers´ practices in families with small children in the Czech Republic, namely men on parental leave, fathers at childbirth and couples with firstborn babies. The research findings offer some critical considerations of their practices for gender equality in the family pointing out the double-sidedness or multi-layered context in which fathers get involved in nurturing and care. Issues such as men´s anxiety or dominance act together to challenge the status quo in gender relations as well as reproduce it. Thus, focus on fathers in this paper opens up questions of enhancing gender equality and anxiety towards dismantling masculine hegemony.
While it has been unusual earlier in human civilization for fathers to attend the births of their children and be in contact with their infants, we now see that fathers attend deliveries and have much more contact with, and responsibility for, their small children. The Danish Fatherhood Research Program has shown that fathers now are present at 95% of the deliveries, and that most of the fathers also participate in pre-natal courses and preparatory childbirth consultations. And moreover that the fathers consider that having a child is a family experience they want to be part of. At least in the Nordic countries, it has been common for fathers to take parental leave; with Islandic men taking the lead with an average of 12 weeks parental leave.
These remarkable changes in men’s lives and in the images of masculinity have also opened our eyes for the fact that men, too, can experience great psychological challenges and difficulties in connection with becoming a father.
Results from The Danish Fatherhood Research Program show that between 7 and 10 % of all men becoming fathers develop postnatal depression. And furthermore that the fathers often show these states of mind when having such mental difficulties:
Withdrawal from their close relationships
Anger toward themselves and their close relationships
The lecture will present and discuss these results.
Our Keynote Speakers
Philosopher, philologist, translator
Supervisor of Postgraduate Studies in Gender and associate professor at the University of Nicolaus Copernicus in Toruń. She also works as a research visiting fellow at the Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies at Trinity College in Dublin.
Her work centers on: gender problem in science and culture, phenomenon of the body in contemporary philosophy, contemporary philosophy of language, feminist philosophy of science, and science and technology studies. Her recently published books include Odsłonić tajemnicę znaczenia. Eseje z filozofii języka (Toruń, 2011) and Kobiety w nauce. Problem płci we współczesnej Filozofii nauki i w praktyce badawczej (Warszawa, 2013).
Iva Šmídová, Ph.D. has worked in the field of gender studies since the early 1990s with a particular focus on Critical Studies on Men and Masculinities (CSMM). Her Ph.D. thesis thematised Different Men in the Czech Republic (Alternative Lifestyles connected to Environmental Protection). Her research studies include Families Where Fathers Nurture, and Parents Before and After Childbirth. Her recent research into Czech reproductive medicine has reflected on Men Condemned to Rule analysing men in professional positions of power (medical doctors in head positions of hospital hierarchy in obstetrics) experiencing their everyday life as not a personally satisfying one.
Šmídová Iva (2011). Do the Right Thing! Do Fathers at Childbirth Bring Diversity to Gender Relations? In Rašticová, M. et al. (eds.) Diversity is Reality: Effective Leadership of Diverse Teams in a Global Environment. Brno: CERM – English Books. Pp. 164-173.
Šmídová, Iva (2009). Changing Czech Masculinities? Beyond „Environment And Children Friendly“ Men. In: Oleksy, Elzbieta (ed.) Intimate Citizenships: Gender, Subjectivity, Politics. Routledge. Pp. 312 – 334.
Šmídová, Iva (1999). Men in the Czech Republic (A Few Questions and thoughts on Studying (Some) Men). Czech Sociological Review, Vol. 7, No. 2: 215 – 222.
Svend Aage Madsen
Since 1996 he has been Head of Department for Psychology, Play Therapy & Social Counselling at the Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet Denmark.
Svend Aage Madsen has headed research programmes tackling issues such as ‘Fathers’ Relations with their Infants’, ‘Fathers and Delivery’, ‘Men’s Mood Disorders in Becoming Fathers’, and ‘Men as Patients’. He is working clinically and scientific with a focus on men’s and fathers’ mental health and men and psychotherapy. Currently Svend Aage Madsen is conducting a comprehensive research program on how to detect coming fathers mood disturbances during the coming mothers pregnancy. Svend Aage Madsen has published several national and international books and articles. He is author of the section “Men’s mental health” in the report “The State of Men’s Health in Europe”. He was Chair of Copenhagen Conference 2012 on “Gender and Health through Life”, and is President of Men’s Health Society, Denmark, and Vice President of European Men’s Health Forum.
Selected international publications:
Madsen, S.Aa. & Burgess, A. (2010) Becoming a father – post natal depression in men pp. 71-82. In: White, A. & Conrad, D. (eds.) Promoting Men’s Mental Health. London: Radcliffe Publishing.
Madsen, S.Aa. (2010) Between autonomy and attachment. Psychotherapy for men with postnatal depression. In: Blazina, C & Miller, D. (eds). An International Psychology of Men. Theoretical Advances, Case Studies, and Clinical Innovations, pp. 315-340. New York: Routledge.
Mikkelsen, A., Madsen, S. Aa. & Humaidan, P. (2012) Psychological aspects of male fertility treatment. Journal of Advanced Nursing Article first published online: 10 DEC 2012. DOI: 10.1111/jan.12058