The Workshop: A Multicultural Look at Male Parenting in Contemporary America
This brief features a look at fatherhood from several presenters from different cultural perspectives. The six were featured at a special workshop on fathering in American society. The effects of cultural norms and their sometimes marked contrast to Eurocentric stereotypes can be dramatic and damaging to the father/child relationship. The panelists p[resented challenges faced by African American, Chinese, Hispanic and Latino, Japanese, and Native American fathers in America. The workshop was followed by interactive sessions with the six panelists. Several potential problems were cited that can affect fathering in all cultures. The rise in crime, substance abuse, and other undesirable behaviors has alienated many young fathers from their children. Adolescent males who have not yet developed a sense of their own identities are becoming fathers. How can they develop as fathers while still developing as men? Should human service providers routinely include a fathering component in their parent education programs? Will fathering become less important in children's lives with the increase in artificial insemination? Does one's view of cultural assimilation in America influence one's view of fathering in America? Much of the dialogue in these sessions reflect on negative stereotypes of fathers. The father who is absent, unemployed, emotionless, promiscuous, unsupportive or career-oriented to the point of neglecting the family are the fathers most talked about in human service settings. The topic of fathering does not appear in the United States Department of Labor Clearinghouse on 'work and family'. These workshops, first held in 1993 in Washington, D.C., are intended to be an ongoing series of opportunities for reflection on fathers and on other topics that touch on the fabric of our communities. Through this discussion, the role of fatherhood can be understood a little better as part of important trends in family structure in American society.