Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dilemmas

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Coltrane’s (2004) article “Paradoxes, Contradictions, and Dilemmas” provided a broad ranging overview of the concept of fatherhood. Among the article’s primary insights that I found significant were the ways that it explored the shift from the distant father concept – that had dominated popular Western culture in the mid-20th century – to the nurturing father concept that emerged as prominent in the 1980s. Although father involvement was shown to be significant, Coltrane (2004) also noted that the vast majority of children from single-parent homes turn out to be upstanding citizens. Also significant was the researcher’s indication that the amount of father involvement may not be the most deciding factor, but rather the quality of father involvement, and that the father’s wages play a significant role in the child’s well-being independent of his involvement. Such insights would provide nuance to the microsystem component of Brofbrenner’s ecological systems theory, which attests to the impact that an individual’s systematic environment has on their development and overall health (Boison & Dzidonu). Of course, outside research has also confirmed Coltrane’s (2008) perspective that the quality of parenting plays a critical role, with Joseph and John (2008) describing child outcomes as something that is directly contingent along a spectrum of parenting styles, from authoritarian to uninvolved. The ultimate implications of such understandings are that changing economic conditions, increasing female involvement in the workforce, as well as changing perceptions regarding what constitutes normative father roles in respect to children all are having a dynamic impact on shaping human development. With the increasing rate of divorce, coupled with the emergence of social media and telecommunication, one wonders if further fathering changes and trends will emerge as the 21st century advances.

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  1. Boison, B. T. K., & Dzidonu, C. (2017). Exploring technology user environments in higher educational institutions: A bioecological theory based framework. American Journal of Educational Research, 5(2), 150-154.
  2. Coltrane, S. (2004). Fathering: Paradoxes, contradictions, and dilemmas. Handbook of contemporary families: Considering the past, contemplating the future (pp. 319–331).
  3. Joseph, M. V., & John, J. (2008). Impact of parenting styles on child development. Global  Academic Society Journal: Social Science Insight1(5), 16-25.
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