My Wife Can Tell Me Who I Know: Methodological and Conceptual Problems in Studying Fathers

Abstract

Using in-depth interviews with white and black families with children in third and fourth grade, as well as intensive home observations of twelve families, this study found fathers were not useful sources of information for the routines of family life. They did not know much; most of what they knew came from their wives. Reports by fathers of high levels of involvement were not confirmed by detailed interviews or observation. Yet, fathers were an important source of entertainment, a center of conversation, and teachers of certain life skills. The results suggest researchers need to focus more on what fathers actually do in family life, particularly setting the tone in the fluid interactional character of family dynamics.

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Lareau, A. My Wife Can Tell Me Who I Know: Methodological and Conceptual Problems in Studying Fathers. Qualitative Sociology 23, 407–433 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1005574724760

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  • fatherhood
  • gender
  • division of labor
  • family