"New Fathers" with more Time for their Children?

What changes have there been in the self-images of fathers and grandfathers in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany, and likewise in their role in raising children - and why? These questions are the focus of a research project on and carried out at Heidelberg University’s Department of History. The project entitled "Time with (Grand)Parents" analyses the period from 1960 to 1990, which was characterised by economic crises and new social movements. A parallel blog aims to supplement the project’s thematic focus by interdisciplinary perspectives and related research topics.

Traditional ways of life such as the nuclear family and the related role distribution of breadwinner-housewife or main and secondary money earner were called into question in West Germany from the 1960s onwards, particularly during the women’s movement. From this context developed the ideal of the "new father" as one who gets involved in childcare. Restricting the father’s employment in favour of family time was an issue first discussed in society, as well. "We are focusing both on the norms and forms of maleness in this period and on men’s parental relations with their children and grandchildren," underlines project leader Katja Patzel-Mattern from the Department of History.

"We want to check whether the cutbacks in welfare state benefits in the 1970s and 1980s led to attaching more value to family solidarity, which in the course of a sociocultural redefinition of maleness led to changed forms of grandparent-grandchild and father-child relationship," adds Dr Gina Fuhrich, who is involved in the research project as a postdoc. Role models and practices, as well as the duration of male parenthood and grandfatherhood are to be studied using interviews with contemporary witnesses, parental diaries and contemporary sociological studies. That way, Dr Fuhrich and doctoral candidate Hannah Schultes want to trace the changes in self-image and everyday action of fathers and grandfathers in the second half of the 20th century.

The blog set up for the research project is particularly addressed to an interested public. Representatives of various disciplines will prepare inputs on topics such as reproduction, childcare and the influence of scholarship, gender, the government and the employment market on parenting. Furthermore, a digital lecture series on the change in parenting is planned for September. Here, too,

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