First-time fathers and child care. Persistence and innovation in the italian fatherhood regime.

TitleFirst-time fathers and child care. Persistence and innovation in the italian fatherhood regime.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsMusumeci R, Naldini M, Santero A
JournalInterdisciplinary Journal of Family Studies
Date Published12/2015
PublisherPadova University Press
Place PublishedPadova, IT
ISSN Number2282-2011
Keywordschildcare, fathers, Italy, parental leave, transition to parenthood

This longitudinal qualitative study aims to disentangle what factors contribute to, and what decision-making processes lie behind, the reproduction or the reduction of gender differences during the transition to parenthood. The authors first reconstruct the ‘Italian fatherhood regime’, considering rights and obligations established by the state, reconciliation policies, labour market, and the family. Then they analyse the discourses of 17 Italian middle-class dual-earner couples living in Northern Italy interviewed separately before and one year and half after the arrival of their first child between 2010 and 2013 (68 interviews), focusing on the fathers’ intentions, expectations, and practices concerning parental leaves and childcare. The majority of interviews reveal the persistence of breadwinner masculinities. Nevertheless, even in the highly discouraging Italian context, some couples construct less gendered childcare arrangements. ‘Undoing gender’ processes are influenced by care ideals, the father’s work environment, an involving career-oriented mother, and the limited availability of other caregivers.