Men, maternity and moral residue: negotiating the moral demands of the transition to first time fatherhood

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Abstract

This article discusses men's transition to first time fatherhood, with a focus on the way they recognise various in-tension moral demands and negotiate an appropriate role for themselves. The findings are taken from a longitudinal study, drawing on elements of grounded theory, comprising a series of face-to-face and telephone interviews with 11 men over a 9-month period from the 12(th) week of pregnancy to 8 weeks after the birth. The analysis focuses on men's feelings and experience of exclusion and participation, and their response and reaction to that experience. The findings present two descriptive themes, 'on the inside looking in' and 'present but not participating', followed by third theme 'deference and support: a moral response' that exposes the dilemmatic nature of men's experience and explains the participants' apparent acceptance of being less involved. The discussion explores the concept of moral residue, arguing that while deference and support may be an appropriate role for fathers in the perinatal period it may also be a compromise that leads to feelings of uncertainty and frustration, which is a consequence of being in a genuinely dilemmatic situation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1003-1019
Number of pages17
JournalSociology of Health and Illness
Volume36
Issue number7
Early online date5 Aug 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Family Characteristics
  • Fathers
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Life Change Events
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morals
  • Role
  • Socioeconomic Factors

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