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In what ways do essentialist understandings of gender impact upon children’s lives? Examine with reference to the following: Fathering

In what ways do essentialist understandings of gender impact upon children’s lives? Examine with reference to the following: Fathering

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Poppy Jean Breheny. Originally submitted for Social Analysis, Gender, and Society at University College Cork, with lecturer Eileen Hogan in the category of Social Studies
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Poppy Jean Breheny. Originally submitted for Social Analysis, Gender, and Society at University College Cork, with lecturer Eileen Hogan in the category of Social Studies

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
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Word Count: 3, 382 wordsAssignment:
In what ways do essentialist understandings of gender impact upon children’s lives?
Examine with reference to the following: Fathering
Our most contemporary ideology of fatherhood from a sociological perspective could bedescribed as the
shift from „cash to care‟ (
Durrant, 2009, W
the Daddy? ; Irishtimes.com,2011a). While the masculine model of breadwinner and provider of the pack is somewhat stillembedded within the context of our society, do fathers still have the power they once had informer Irish society? Developments in social policy and civil rights have worked towardsincorporating the rights and responsibilities of both parents into social and political family lawdevelopments like The Guardianship Act (1964) , with
the best interests of the child
at heart.Nevertheless, modern families nowadays derive from a broad spectrum of married couples, non-martial parents, co-habitants, and lone parents. As this modern image begins to step into the shoesof the traditional family we must query our developments. Do Irish social understandings withinpolicy provide recognition for the rights of the modern Irish father? Are we promoting thecontemporary
caring role
universally? Moreover, do these modern wars within social policyshape our children
‟s lives
? Waters (1997) refers to the modern and caring father as a man of moral
one who is „
100 per cent responsible, 110 per cent loving, 500 per cent flexible and 1,000
 per cent committed‟ (Waters, 1997; IrishTime
s.com, 2011a). Perchance, the fathers new rolecombines both caring
winning. Be there truth in the testimony, how can Irish social policyunderstandings assure that every father wins enough to care?In recent years, Irish masculinity has gone through, what one could term, reconfiguredrenovation. New demands on the father have generated novel roles. In the past, the traditions of masculinity centred
around „Irish
labour‟ – 
the „honourable‟ male custom
(Curtis and Varley1987 as cited in Ferguson 2004: p121) - where masculine success was publicized if you possesseda
or made a holy and celibate
(Ferguson and Reynolds 2001 as cited in Ferguson
2004: p120). The “responsible father” was
seen to be a responsible provider accepting his role as
the family‟s
financier. Automatically or unconsciously seen as a role that came with the contractof marriage, the Catholic Church was somewhat an accompanying generator for much of this
financial energy
. Be that as it may, what brought about this change?Hobson (2002) recognises the influential relationships between
between the sexes in countries to the West of the globe. She testifies thatmovements from feminist parties which recognised the equal responsibilities of men, and civil
rights developments from fathers themselves, signified the equal right of men within the family.These have both given birth to movements from labour to love and our new model of contemporary
„caring fathers‟
(Hobson, 2002, Making Men into Fathers: Men, Masculinities, andthe Social Politics of Fatherhood. p.170). Within the twenty first century nonetheless, theoristshave given birth to correlated familial movements such as divorce, lone mothers, co-habiting, andsingle parenting. In 2002, 14% of all children lived in lone parent households (OMCYA, State of the Nations Children, 2006, p. 24). Statistical shifts like this within the family have furtherdisrupted the traditional model and steered both mothers and fathers in the direction of dualparental responsibility -
by day, child by night
, or vice versa. Mckeown (2002) supportsthe growing shift of fathers in family policy developments stemming from issues like familial
assortments, rights, supports, and psychological testimonies which haveprovided evidence in recent years marking the magnitude of fathers within the family forprosperous child development (Mckeown, 2002, p.4). As modern day media images begin toreplace paternal professionals for pacifiers, and pay-checks for prams, are policy developmentssupporting the
in vogue
role of fatherhood sufficiently?
Since the late 1990‟s, fatherhood has become the hot
-topic at the round table of government reports concerning issues like status within the Constitution and child support (Rush,2009, , p.3). Article 41.3 of the Irish Constitutional oath to carefully sa
feguard „the institution of marriage, on which the family is founded‟
was somewhat a reflection of male parents past (Rush,2009, p. 12). Still to this day nonetheless, the convention of marriage appears to be preserved bythe state, in spite of sociological amendments within the family, like divorce in 1997, that havegone by (Burely & Regan, 2002, p. 202-222). Reflected in the Report of the Constitution ReviewGroup (1997), the Irish Constitution adheres to traditions of the Catholicism and lays down itslaws with two units in mind
the child and the married family (The All-Party OireachtasCommittee on the Constitution,1997, p.6 ). The Constitution was, and still is, fabricated for anation. Yet does it endorse the diverse discourse of fathers and families today?Within the Irish Constitution the married father is given sole parental rights andresponsibility for his children. This provides him with joint custody rights, day-to-day careresponsibilities, and control over matters affecting the child (Law Reform Commission, 2009).Guardianship rights, providing him with the entitlement to make decisions with regard to his
s upbringing continue for the married father, even if marriage came about after the birth of the child (Government of Ireland, 1964, sect. 6(1)). It is possible that the married father haschoice here as a parent, to balance the modern day dual father role without constitutionalimpediments in his way. Are these rights uniform for non-married fathers ?
Following the estranged split of marriage, copious children reside in the
home. In
63 out of 70 joint custody cases studied, children‟s primary residence proved to be with the
mother (Mahon & Moore, 2011, Post-Separation Parenting; A Study of Separation and DivorceAgreements, ch. 5). Perchance this could solely relate to the fact that Irish legislation gives full
guardianship right to mothers of „illegitimate‟ or „non
marital‟ infants (Guardi
anship of InfantsAct, 1964, s. 6(4)). What part does the single father play here? Is it easy for him
to „care‟
as acorresponding result? In order to avail of his rights, biological non-marital fathers may onlyachieve joint guardianship provided both parents agree to it under the Children Act (1997) andcan only avail of 
custody, access, or guardianship
rights after an application has been made(Law Reform Commission, 2009, p.13-14; Department of Justice, Equality, & Law Reform,1997). Similar to the Keegan
v- Ireland case regarding adoption, the recent J.McB - V- L E case(2010) saw the downfall of paternal rights when a father lost the litigation to have his threechildren returned
to their „habitual residence‟
, having been taken abroad by their mother withoutpaternal consent. The decision came about owing to paternal failure to seek guardianshipapplication for
„unexplained‟ reasoning
(Coulter, 2010; IrishTimes.com, 2011a; Courts Service,2010). In spite of his defence claiming that the removal had been unlawful within the meaning of the article 15, 3, and 2 of the Hague Convention, his insufficient, constitutional custody rightsproved worthy enough to favour maternity over paternity rights according to Mr JusticeMacMenamin (Coulter, 2010; IrishTimes.com, 2011a; Courts Service, 2010). In spite of providing non-marital men with rights by application for such rights, are there possible reasonsfathers do not avail of this responsibility? Can we really avow that they just
care?A child has a right to identity
„a right to know‟ who „his parents‟ are
- under article 7 and8 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Irish Times, Coulter, 2010, p.19). Irish familyregistrations of births do not specifically provide any legal requirements for the details of non-marital fathers by the mother, or by the father for that matter. Under the Civil Registrations Act(2004) fathers within the non-marital family structure are simply
“not required to give
formation” during the birth registration (Law Reform Commission, 2009, p. 40
; House of theOireachtas, 2004).
Dow (1998) looks upon an infant‟s birth registration as
a procedure that is inthe best interest for the child in keeping with the UN Convention
our rights based bible - , and
the „birth certificate‟ as
the ticket to
citizenship‟ (Dow, 1998).
While some fathers may desire todo so by choice, have we begun to pay little heed to those fathers who yearn to be registered?Acknowledging older models of fatherhood, is cash enough to show you care?The Commission on the Family (1998) acknowledges the vitality of joint parenting andchild maintenance (Mckeown, 2002; ch.6, p. 28; Commission on the Family, 1998). Is child

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