Can having ‘masculine traits’ make you a better father? | #parenting

Some men in possession of traditional masculine traits like competitiveness and adventurousness can be better fathers to their infants, a new study has suggested.

According to the study, whose findings were published in the journal Psychology of Men and Masculinities, educated men — belonging to dual-earner couples — were found to combine these stereotypical characteristics of masculinity with the belief that they would be nurturing and highly-involved fathers.

Study lead author Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan, professor of psychology at The Ohio State University, was surprised to find that the traits, which are often viewed as old-fashioned and typical were linked to positive parenting behaviours.

“These men are combining traditional aspects of masculinity with new nurturing ideals to create new fathering identities. They may be in the midst of transforming fatherhood,” Schoppe-Sullivan was quoted as saying.

For the study, seven traits were observed and found to be linked to positive parenting. These were: competitive, daring, adventurous, dominant, aggressive, courageous and stood up to pressure.

A negative masculine attitude — hostile sexism — was also measured in this study, and was obviously not linked to positive parenting. In addition, it was also observed that the quality of a father’s parenting was not related to the belief that men should be “primary economic providers in the family”.

The respondents were participating in the New Parents Project, which is a long-term study led by Schoppe-Sullivan investigating how dual-earner couples adjust to becoming first-time parents.

For the study, expectant fathers completed a variety of questionnaires in the third trimester of their partners. They were asked to rate themselves on a four-point scale (‘not at all like me’ to ‘very much like me’) on the aforementioned seven masculine characteristics.

Hostile sexism was rated by asking participants how much they agreed with certain statements, for instance, ‘feminists are making unreasonable demands of men’. They were also asked whom they think — men or women — should provide the majority of income for the family.

Nine months after the babies’ birth, researchers watched fathers interact with them alone, and in the presence of the mothers. They rated them on their positive parenting behaviour, and on how well they co-parented. Predictably, results showed men who believed they should have a “nurturing father role” had a higher-quality interaction with their kids, and were better co-parents.

But researchers were also surprised to learn the more men said they fit the stereotypical definition of “real men”, the more they were also rated as displaying “good parenting behaviour”.

“The fathers who see themselves as competitive and adventurous and the other masculine traits, tended to be really engaged with their kids. They were not checked out,” Schoppe-Sullivan said.

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