Fatherhood in America: A History

Robert L. Griswold, Author
Robert L. Griswold, Author Basic Books $24 (356p) ISBN 978-0-465-00140-8
Reviewed on: 05/31/1993
Release date: 06/01/1993
Paperback - 978-0-465-02343-1
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Griswold ( Family and Divorce in California 1850-1890 ) argues convincingly that economic and social forces rooted in the Industrial Revolution have gradually nudged fathers from their central role in family life. Before industrialization, men had essential skills to pass on to their children, but through succeeding generations a man's role as provider has narrowed to merely bringing home a paycheck. Griswold, who cites fathers' letters, diary entries and the work of other historians, draws few original conclusions and doesn't clarify distinctions between each era's version of fatherhood. His prediction in the final chapter that future social policies related to family life will change to embrace a fatherhood that includes more actual care-giving is not well supported. His observation that WW II veterans who, returning home to children they had never seen, were unprepared, often harsh fathers whose relationships with their children were permanently limited, is provocative. (June)
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