Is New Fatherhood the same as Active Fatherhood? Experiences from Slovenia
Center for Social Psychology Faculty of Social Sciences, Unversity of Ljubljana Slovenia,
/ The Peace Institute Slovenia,
The paper will deal with the phenomenon of the new fatherhood which is usually defined by more active involvement of men in family labour, especially in child care and related activities. Based on empirical evidence (focus groups, interviews), the authors claim for Slovenia that new fatherhood only partly means also active fatherhood and fathering. First of all, fatherhood is a plural phenomenon, including various paternal identities and fathering practices. In Slovenia, two models of fatherhood with regard to the active involvement of fathers in family life seem to prevail: the complementary (based on traditional complementary division of family labour with mainly passive involvement of fathers, but not based on the traditional notion of father as a bread-winner) and the supportive model (with active involvement of fathers in family labour, however based on the notion of fatherhood as assistant/supportive parental role and motherhood as primary parental role). Fatherhood in Slovenia is new in a sense that it is significantly different from traditional notion of fatherhood as a distant paternal role (e.g. men do not identify with the typical traditional bread-winner role; they also hold modern views on gender roles etc.). Yet, it seems that changes occur mainly on the level of paternal identity and to a much lesser extent on the level of fathering practices. The slowest process towards active fathering can be observed with middle class fathers. The authors will discuss the social contexts, subjective and structural factors/obstacles that influence the way in which new fatherhood in Slovenia is evolving, among others, the structural gender inequalities and persistence of traditional division of family labour, strong female family networks (providing important support in everyday life, e.g. daily child care), persistent ideology of motherhood as primary parental role on the one hand and ideology of new fatherhood on the other, process of individualisation, intensified employment and working conditions, influence of family policy etc.