Future research projects – a catalogue of ideas
by Tina Juhl
January 17th 2007
last updated January 17th 2007
What will the main goals of research-projects be in the future
“Compared with mothers, fathers are dramatically underrepresented in clinical child and adolescent research. The author reviewed empirical and theoretical clinical child and adolescent literature to ascertain the reasons for this underrepresentation. Four somewhat interrelated factors are discussed: practical issues in participant recruitment (…), theory-driven research based on sexist theories, and research assumptions based on outdated societal norms.”
Am. Psychol. 1992 May; 47(5):656-64
This quotation is from an abstract of an article in 1992. In many ways times have changed. Many studies show that fathers are more than willing to participate, the development in societal norms is considered in many studies and sexist theories are no longer the main base for research on gender and fatherhood issues. But taken into consideration how many years there has been a focus on women and motherhood in childrelated research there is still a long way to go. And it is still very important to stress the necessity of including men as fathers in parentrelated and childrelated research – and not only as a part of this research but also to do research that only focuses on fatherrelated aspects.
Beneath some needs for future research in different fields are described. It is not a complete list of needs but meant to be an inspiration for new research on the important topic fatherhood.
1. Investigation of couple dynamics: The influence of partners/spouses on the promotion or obstruction of good fatherhood/good parenting activities of the father. A goal of this research could be to get more precise information on this matter and develop guidelines for mothers who want to promote or advance caring fatherhood. Read more: Background: The notion that some female partners of fathers support active/caring fatherhood in words but obstruct good fathering in practice by behaving like the “single expert” in parenting matters in the household. E.g., many fathers report that their partners would try to take the baby or toddler away from them arguing, “You are not doing it the right way. Let me show you,” or, let me just do it, we´ll be done quicker”. Experiencing this sort of behaviour a number of times will turn men who want to be caring fathers back to old role model performance. (– Moreover, there is the finding from a German study that many women tend to “like” (in the sense of finding them sympathetic) caring men but they do not find caring men attractive as e.g. potential partners (Keyword gender role stereotyping performed by women/female partners).
2. Further research regarding fathers suffering from postnatal depression:
- The development of more precise assessments of postnatal depression in fathers including the male-specific symptoms. One goal should be the development of screening instruments that include both men and women since ‘male symptoms’ occur in women too and many men suffer ‘traditional’ symptoms of depression. Such a tool would be another step towards gender equality when it comes to discovering and helping parents suffering from postnatal depression.
- Which psychotherapeutic approach is most useful when treating fathers.
- How to best get in touch with fathers who need help.
- What effect does therapeutic work have on the relation to the child and the mother.
- Advantages and disadvantages of individual, couple and grouptherapy.
3. Further research regarding the subjective aspects of the “fatherhood-constellation”.
4. What are the differences between the father’s narrative about his way of being a father and the objective story/his acting.
5. Further research on what motivates fathers in being engaged in an active, participating and involved fatherhood.
6. Further research regarding reactions and needs of men in couples undergoing infertility treatment.
7. Further research regarding the role of a father in divorced families, his psychological reactions, the father-child relationship etc.
1. How do fathers in ethnic minority groups define their role as a father? Do the ideal and the role models change? And if so; how?
2. How do fathers experience the expectations regarding both their fatherhood and manhood coming from society, their partner and their family? Are there any conflicting expectations, and are there any societal structures that prevent a redefinition of fatherhood and manhood?
3. How does a close father/son relationship influence on the son’s ability to be a caring father? What will the changes be that we see in the future following a greater number of new fathers who grew up with caring fathers?
1) Is it possible to detect a change in the way fathers conceive of their experiences with the public health system due to the increasing focus on this issue?
2) How does being a father affect a man’s health? His psychological well-being, his physical activity, the balance between family and work-life.
3) How do leaflets concerning birth and health care appeal to fathers? Do they reach the intended goal?
4) How does the dynamic and the intergenerational influence of the relationship between father and child influence men’s health: Fathers do probably influence their children’s way of parenting when they get to that stage of life.
5) How does it affect a man psychologically and physically to be a father under special conditions like having a handicapped child, a child with a severe/cronic disease, after a divorce, being a single father, having the main responsibility for a child etc.
6) Birth-preparation courses for fathers: Which kind of knowledge is especially needed from the perspective of a father, which setting is best, what are the outcomes?
1) What are the effects / outcomes of good fatherhood policies in companies? Compare companies performing good fatherhood policies (e.g. flexible working time patterns, leave policies, measures that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life, etc) with others that don´t: Do father-and-family friendly companies really run better? If so, what is good & best practice in measures and instruments?
2) Compare and combine micro and macro politics. Rob Palkowitz (US) says intended good macro politics won´t work if there is no counterpart on the micro level. For example, a good parental leave system for fathers (macro level) will not show outcome in increased number of caring fathers when there is no climate of supporting good/caring fatherhood within companies (at the workplace=micro level) and in the couple relation / family (micro) level. Research could identify and compare good and bad/lacking combinations of micro and macro level policies in different countries. (This has partly been done in the “working fathers, caring men” study, see: www.verwey-jonker.nl/images/dynamisch/D9433292_def.pdf)