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In W. Bradford Wilcox, Soft Patriarchs, we are treated to a sociological analysis of fatherhood, and his major contention is that there are new models of family and fatherhood arising in the culture and Church today, particularly in Conservative Protestant [CP] churches. Mainline Protestants [MPs] see some changes as well. Speaking of fathers and mothers, check out my pictures of hte Willitts twins three posts below this one.
CPs are in some ways â??traditional family patriarchs.â? How?
1. Do a smaller share of household labor.
2. More likely to use corporal punishment.
3. See importance in male headship in the home.
Yes, these same males are â??soft patriarchs.â? How?
1. Most active and emotionally engaged fathers.
2. CP commitment to family outweighs our subcultureâ??s commitment to gender-role traditionalism.
3. This family commitment is seen in discourse, church social networks and ethos.
These men are near the â??new man idealâ? = active and emotionally expressive familial involvement.
CPs have an orthodox commitment to truth as â??transcendent, absolute and unchangingâ? (192). This has led to a resistance toward family modernization and gender egalitarianism. The CPs shored up the family against modernization by exhorting fathers to be more engaged and affectionate in the family. Thus, â??progressive means in the service of traditional endsâ? (193).
Thus, â??support for familism and gender-role traditionalism has become a crucial dimension of CP collective identityâ? (193). Mainliners are progressive in family pluralism and gender equality. Thus, our theory of family becomes symbolic of worldview â?? and becomes a the same time a political statement about progressive changes. (Many CPs, however, are less traditional than public statements and many MPs are less progressive than public statements â?? indicating that some of this is political posturing.)
Ideologically: 25% of Mainliners hold to progressive family values; 54% of CPs hold to traditional family values. If we factor in higher church attendance, the numbers move to 20% and 60%.
Churchgoing CPs are soft patriarchs â?? and are not abusive or authoritarian and do not have stereotyped forms of masculinity. They outpace MPs in emotional and practical dedication to their children and wives. The CPs are the least likely to abuse their wives.
Nominal CPs are less emotional with children and wives; nominal CPs are the most likely to be abusive.
Churchgoing MPs are affectionate with wives and children; involved in youth-related activities; nominal MPs are the most egalitarian; more involved in one-on-one activities with kids; do more household labor. MPs are thus the â??new men.â?
What does the future hold?
1. No family: more and more single parent families. (Distant fathers)
2. New family: consistent egalitarianism. (New fathers)
3. Old family: revival of traditionalism. (Old fathers)
4. Neotraditional family: domesticating men with some traditionalism. (Neotraditonal fathers)

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