As I mentioned in Part 1 of this post, after reading an essay on the progression of fatherhood written by author and stay-at-home dad, Roman Krznaric, I became curious about this same progression in the United States. Again, what I found over the course of the research fascinated me.
I had been under the impression that, aside from some variation, the role of fathers as the “provider” remained basically the same in this country. Not so. Although they were recognized as the authoritarian figure in the household, fathers were much more involved in their family’s lives. This, of course, could be a good or bad thing, but in any case, as the United States expanded westward and advanced into the Industrialized Period, a father’s influence continued to decrease as did his attachment to the family, both physical and emotionally.
This increasing detachment then resulted in mothers becoming the hub of family life essentially by default, which carried with it the childcare and household duties. Moving into the later part of the 19th Century the division of roles became more pronounced as did the distinction between the working and middle classes.
Because all family members in working class families needed to work, and yet still lived in poverty, the government stepped in and created a family wage economy allowing the man to support his household on his income alone. This is where we pick up again, and government intervention becomes a central theme as it tries to correct the outlying consequences of decreased paternal influence—consequences created by its own industrialized economy.
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Ron Mattocks is a father of five (3 sons, 2 stepdaughters) and author of the book, Sugar Milk: What One Dad Drinks When He Can’t Afford Vodka. He blogs at Clark Kent’s Lunchbox, and lives in Houston with his wife, Ashley, who eternally mocks his fervor for Coldplay.
Photo Credits: Wiki Commons; #10 Freerangephotos
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