Meanings of Fatherhood in Urban Tajikistan

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Abstract

Research is limited on the ways in which men from post-Soviet countries, especially Asian Muslim men, define their paternal responsibilities and the factors that shape their fatherhood experiences. From February through August 2014, the first author conducted qualitative interviews with 30 fathers with children ages 0 to 19 years old who lived in urban areas of Tajikistan. Interviews explored fathers’ perspectives about their childcare responsibilities, rewards, constraints, and difficulties of fatherhood. We clustered responses regarding respondents’ childcare responsibilities into 4 interrelated themes: (a) teaching, (b) providing, (c) caregiving, and (d) nurturing. Fathers identified several constraints that affect their fatherhood experiences, including work and education responsibilities as well as the age and gender of their children. Overall, fathers indicated that the most difficult dimensions of fatherhood included responsibilities of fatherhood, finding effective disciplinarian approaches, and their inability to meet children’s expectations. Most respondents commented on the joy, happiness, prosperity, inspiration, and support fatherhood brought to them. Results of this research may be useful for service providers and public health experts to define programs for increasing involvement of fathers in childcare. In addition, results may be useful to guide future fatherhood research, especially in post-Soviet societies.

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