Rethinking Fathers' Involvement in Child Care A Developmental Perspective


Father, child, Child development, child care


Most studies of fathers' participation in child care focus on fairness, or domestic democracy. What is sacrificed by fairness-focused studies of family work is attention to the developmental tasks that adult men and women face while building a life together. This article explores the developmental implications for fathers of their underinvolvement in child care using Erikson's conception of adult development and his emphasis on achieving generativity. We suggest processes by which fathers may develop generativity and outline the challenges they face in achieving it. The transition to parenthood often sets mothers and fathers on divergent developmental trajectories that may leave them in different developmental positions. Men's involvement in child care may be crucial to keeping men's and women's development synchronous and hence to maintaining satisfying relationships. A developmental perspective on men's participation in child care may also be more conducive to helping fathers increase their involvement than the domestic-democracy perspective. Directions for future research are suggested based on a developmental perspective.

Original Publication Citation

Hawkins, A. J., Christiansen, S. L., Pond-Sargent, K., & Hill, E. J. (1993). Rethinking fathers' involvement in child care: A developmental perspective. Journal of Family Issues, 14, 531-549. doi: 10.1177/019251393014004004

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Journal of Family Issues




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor