Fatherhood In America: A History

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9780465001408: Fatherhood In America: A History

Culled from diaries, letters, magazines, surveys, and the transcripts of congressional hearings, this history of fatherhood in America traces the fundamental shift from nineteenth-century patriarch to twentieth-century ""Dad."" National ad/promo.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Griswold (American History/University of Oklahoma; Family and Divorce in California, 1850-1890, 1983--not reviewed) surveys how, since 1800, fatherhood in America has been shaped by economic necessity, political opportunity, social expectations, and, recently, by the personal needs of fathers themselves. This is a tale of changing systems and shifting roles: As men spent more time away from home in the 19th century, and women acquired custody rights over their children, the state not only assumed power over education, but the traditional image of fathers as providers, protectors, and authority figures also began to fade. Fathers black and white, urban and rural, rich and poor--all were marginalized or displaced, and even the most successful patriarchal systems were defeated by the emerging liberal and youth-oriented culture of the 20th century. As models of family life changed in the 1930's, men were required to become more nurturing and companionable, and the family evolved into an emotional as much as an economic center. For postwar fathers, parenting replaced work as a source of identity, with patriarchs becoming pals, Little League coaches, and the men behind the barbecue. The revolutionary 60's and their aftermath produced a ``kaleidoscope of fatherhood'': breadwinners could become ``breadlosers''; protectors could become abusers; and some dads abandoned their children to the state, which had already undermined their authority. Other men had multiple families, leaving one fathering-situation to start another. Finally, a whole therapeutic culture arose identifying the ``wild men and wimps'' and assisting men in fathering ``the child within,'' as well their flesh-and-blood kids. Provocative, informed, wide-ranging, and full of specific detail without being academic. (Illustrations--not seen) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Griswold ( Family and Divorce in California 1850-1890 ) argues convincingly that economic and social forces rooted in the Industrial Revolution have gradually nudged fathers from their central role in family life. Before industrialization, men had essential skills to pass on to their children, but through succeeding generations a man's role as provider has narrowed to merely bringing home a paycheck. Griswold, who cites fathers' letters, diary entries and the work of other historians, draws few original conclusions and doesn't clarify distinctions between each era's version of fatherhood. His prediction in the final chapter that future social policies related to family life will change to embrace a fatherhood that includes more actual care-giving is not well supported. His observation that WW II veterans who, returning home to children they had never seen, were unprepared, often harsh fathers whose relationships with their children were permanently limited, is provocative.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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