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Ethnic minority fathers between traditional and new father roles

January 29th 2007
last updated January 29th 2007

Ethnic minority fathers between traditional

and new father roles

by Associate Professor, Ph.D. Kenneth Reinecke

Purpose of the project
The project is directed towards a study of how ethnic minority fathers perceive fatherhood, and how this inflects attitudes towards gender equality in the family as a whole. The method of the study has been qualitative interviews with 20 ethnic minority fathers. The countries of origin of the fathers were Turkey, Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The focus areas in the interviews were experiences by being a father, relationship to own parents and partner, working place culture, leave experiences, cultural dilemmas in raising children and participation in the household activities.
Most of the fathers want a close relationship with their children. They are conscious about the responsibilities and duties and they are giving priority to their children in everyday-life. Regarding their own history/childhood, it can be said, that there is a huge difference in the way they have been brought up and the father role they want to perform themselves. They speak about their own fathers with respect, but they are also distancing themselves from the their fathers.
Paternity leave is not considered a “threat” to masculinity, but few of the fathers have been taking a long paternity leave. The majority of fathers have only been taking 2 weeks leave and some of the fathers do not perceive paternity leave as a “right” for men. Regarding cultural dilemmas the fathers emphasises that they try to take the best from the traditional and the modern culture. Some of the fathers state they are ”jumping” in and out between cultures. Some fathers are more ”mixing” the cultures. None of the interviewed fathers perceive themselves as Danish. Many of the fathers use the expressions ”our culture” and ”we” though they have been living in Denmark for many years.
In the raising of the children many of the fathers emphasise the importance of education due to the fact that their children are not treated in the same way as Danish children. They want to raise girls/boys in the same way and states that boys are not going to have more space and freedom compared with girls. The fathers want that their children to a certain extent must know the mother tongue of the country of origin. Religion has an impact on how some of the fathers are raising their children. In general it can be concluded that there are many similarities in the attitudes and practices of the ethnic fathers in this study compared to other studies of Danish fathers attitudes to masculinity and fatherhood.

Read more about the study and its results in Danish (pdf)




With support from the European Community - Programme relating to the Community Framework Strategy on Gender Equality (2001-2006).The information contained in this website does not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the European Commission.