Being a father

One of the main responsibilities of a father is to be a role model for his children. And that alone is a challenge.

Being a father involves several and different roles. He...

  • continues to be a co-breadwinner in the family. This means that he has a job and earns an income that is used for the family.
  • organizes together with the mother the upbringing of the common children. This is more difficult after a separation.
  • accompanies his child according to his needs.
  • is the important first contact with the male sex for his daughter.
  • is a role model for his own gender for his son.

The modern man is based on partnership

Accordingly, a modern father characterizes himself in this way. The traditional father, on the other hand, saw or sees himself primarily as the breadwinner of the family and the earner of money. Unfortunately, even in 2022, there are many public images of men and fathers who live and legitimize the traditional image. These include politicians such as Trump, Putin or Erdogan. But also athletes like Ronaldo, Messi. This is because their commitment to and in the family is little known to the public and is accordingly not conveyed. The one about "income", on the other hand, does.

Many and different things are expected of him.

  • His or her partner expects him or her to be there for him or her and to support and relieve him or her in the upbringing and household work. In such a way that he or she can also pursue his or her own professional tasks or career.
  • His children expect him to be there for them. Listening to them, spending time with them. Knows important things from her life and responds to them.
  • His father expects him to be there for the children in the same way or better or differently, as he had done himself.
  • His mother wants him to be the kind of father she would have liked him to be.
  • His colleagues expect him to make the "paternities" compatible.

The paternal role then and now

In the old days – 20-40 years ago – the importance of the father in education was simple: breadwinner and, accordingly, financier. He had less to do with the actual education of the children. Sometimes he was summoned for consequences/punishments to restore calm. He was less at home and his mother organized the household accordingly.

This is still the case in some families today, but in modern families, both mother and father are involved in the upbringing. The modern father carries the toddler in a swaddle, goes for a walk, plays with them, helps with grief and worries and is always a role model (whether he wants to or not).

What does "being a father" mean?

With the birth of his child, a man commits himself to a long-term – often lifelong – project. Overcoming this challenge poses hitherto unknown and new challenges. All the more so because self-expectations and expectations of others for this role are different.

The previous income should usually be enough for him, at most for benefits to other people. Now it has to feed several people.

The former non-working time was used for me, couple and colleague time. Today's one is mostly used by the family. In order for the father to be able to influence his child later on, he must build a father-child bond from the very beginning. This means spending as much time as possible with the child. And this attachment is additionally different, depending on the sex of the child. Not all children are boy or girl, nor are they just straight.

What do fathers suffer from? 

Fathers suffer from the fact that they receive significantly less public appreciation in this role than, for example, in professional, political, sporting, ... Roles. They suffer from the fact that they have to perform at their best every day, both at work and in the family. They suffer from the fact that they have to hide their weaknesses and then show them again. Men often feel a bit lost among mothers, for example in a maternity center.

Are fathers a second-class parent? (Spiegel, 2021)

Partly, yes. Firstly, it is important how the parents define the two roles. How much is the mother entitled to the father, how much she trustingly leaves the toddler to him. Then it also has a lot to do with the father's own consciousness. What did he learn from his father or other paternal role models? How did he prepare for this role?

As long as father and mother live together with the children, all this is a challenge. After a separation, an oversized one.

SPIEGEL described it this way: "Because the expansion of the fathers' zone, which is actually demanded, comes up against an obstacle that is difficult to overcome: the power of matriarchy in institutional childcare and within one's own four walls. In her perception, the norms are set by the mother. It decides whether a father is "good" or "bad", how much and what leeway is given to him with the children: These men, many feel, are just daddy by Mom's grace." Where this is lived, it is difficult for the father!

What do fathers want?

In Liechtenstein, the IG Elternzeit – consisting of committed young men and women, fathers and mothers – is committed to introducing flexible parental leave that is worthy of the name on the one hand and promotes equal opportunities on the other. Modern fathers in our country also want public support, recognition and appreciation.

Michael Tunç, a lecturer in gender and masculinity research in Hamburg, put it this way: "There is a lack of support and recognition of active, caring fathers in society".

Significantly more women would appear on information brochures from the Ministry of Family Affairs. For a long time now, more fathers have wanted to get involved, asking for part-time models – but social development is not keeping up. Tunç therefore called for a rethink of the language. "When we talk about doctors, we mean female doctors, and when we talk about parents, we mean mothers and fathers."

These are sentences that feminist movements have been arguing for decades – under the opposite auspices. But are we men allowed to use such phrases when we stand up for ourselves?

Fathers also want guidance and support for their new role. However, without additional time burdens. It's better to read online when there is time instead of physically attending a lecture.

Tips for fathers

  • Continue to see your children's mother as your partner
  • Take time for your children every day
  • Eat with them at least once a day
  • Talk to them and ask them how their day is/was
  • Cultivate rituals such as the evening bedtime story, excursion
  • "Fight" with them in a playful way, cuddle them, make them cheer
  • Tell them daily that you love them
  • Show them that you're there for them even if they've screwed up

Männerfragen is also involved in this topic with consulting and project work.