Fatherhood is a familial role that is historically bound, in the sense that it is subject to social, economic, and political influences that can change expectations for how fathers should act. In this essay, we discuss the cyclical nature of shifts in cultural prescriptions for North American fathers and echo arguments raised elsewhere that fatherhood is currently in the midst of such a shift, away from the authoritarian, emotionally detached father and toward the involved, nurturant father. We reason herein that such a shift should manifest itself in observable differences between the qualities of men's relationships with their fathers and the qualities of their relationships with their own sons. A study involving 139 father-son dyads revealed that men felt closer to, were more satisfied with, and expressed more verbal, nonverbal, and supportive affection with, their sons than with their own fathers. These findings emerged from both fathers' and sons' reports. Moreover, fathers reported feeling greater closeness and expressing more affection to their sons than their sons felt or expressed to them.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics