4 Fathers across Cultures indigenous perspectives, but also invite broadening definitions of ­fathering beyond traditional conceptions of men’s roles. Because a specific feature of fathering is the construction of meaning about roles, there is emphasis on change and continuity. In some instances, change and continuity occur simultaneously. Depending on the approach to and degree of negotiations within families and institutional structures, men hold onto some cultural scripts about fathering while revising or renouncing others. This process is more likely to occur in developed societies in which social policies and laws have forced men to fashion new modes of embracing childrearing and fam- ily responsibilities. The face of this much-touted “new fatherhood” is not well defined, for what fathers do in childrearing is measured against women’s responsibilities in families and mixes with other life events. Though shifts away from traditional fathering roles are intimately tied to women’s and part- ners’ roles and the quality of spousal/partner relationship, the new father- hood is largely viewed in terms of the equitable distribution of childcare responsibilities across cultures. Obviously, much more clarity is needed about how men revise internal scripts about their roles as fathers in raising chil- dren. Because of inconsistency and their self-regulated interpretations across ­ cultures, new meanings of fathering are contested and evolving. It is likely that the very engaged father is deeply engrossed and comes alive in his par- ticipation with children where he is at ease with himself. THE CONTENTS OF THE BOOK In assembling the chapters for this volume, care was taken to select cul- tures that are at different levels of economic and technological development and that are from broad geographic regions around the world. The cultural groups discussed in this book also reflect different familial and community or population level sociohistorical experiences (e.g., oppression, marginaliza- tion, political domination, progressive policies on fathering) that have influ- enced the dynamics of family relationships and, in some cases, that have led to spatial and psychological separation and the invasion of cultural space between fathers and families. The first segment of the book covers fathering in groups in Latin America and the Caribbean. A significant practice in Afri- can Caribbean families is progressive mating in different unions. Traditional conceptions of masculinity undergird manhood and fatherhood, a pattern noted in South Africa as well. A separation between fathering and partner roles is possible in African Caribbean families. In a similar vein, fathering in Mexico is still largely based in patriarchal traditions, but there is a hint that it is in a state of transition wherein men go through processes of negotia- tion and interactions with their wives/partners and self-examination of their internal working models of how they were raised. Younger fathers attempt
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