Fathering in shared residence after conjugal breakup: balancing paternal autonomy and co-parenting
PHD student Instituto de Ciências Sociais - University of Lisbon Lisbon, Portugal
Nowadays, in Portugal, as in almost all over Europe, joint custody with shared residence with the child is emerging as a new family context for the construction of social practices and norms of fatherhood.
Being a father with shared residence implies constructing a daily social and family life with the child and becoming responsible for the child?s care and education autonomously; fathers must define their own fathering goals, meanings and practices, aside from the previous family project. But it also implies to continue to co-parent with the mother of the child, through negotiation of parental cooperation and division, and to do this in the absence of a conjugal relationship.
Our purpose in this presentation is to discuss fatherhood construction within shared residence, by addressing the interrelations between fathering and co-parenting norms and practices.
The analyses draw on in-depth interviews carried out with 12 fathers who share the residence of their children with the mother. They live in Lisbon, have children under 16 years old, and almost all are highly educated.
Fathering is observed through men´s self-perceptions as fathers, paternal practices and father-child bonds. Co-parenting is examined by looking at forms of parental division, boundaries of parental actions and spaces, and the flexibility of norms regarding: the time of residence with the child, childcare and education practices and costs, decisions and communication about the child.
The results revealed four patterns of fatherhood: assertive, complementary, shared, and supported. In each one the forms of perceiving and doing fatherhood are linked to the way in which paternal autonomy is negotiated in the context of co-parenting norms and practices.