What is there to know about fathers
Producers and educators
The role of father has changed over the past few decades. While society used to be rather skeptical when a man dealt intensively with his children from an early age, the modern image of the father quite naturally includes more than just his role as the breadwinner of the family.
Father - this is the name of the man who fathered a child with a woman. But what about the men who raise the children of other men, in so-called blended families or through adoption? Fatherhood is not just defined by the biological act of procreation.
After that, upbringing and shaping, passing on love and values is the most important task - and this can be taken over by any man, as can be seen from an example from early Christian history, the most famous "surrogate father": Jesus Christ - after Christian faith the Son of God - was brought up by his earth father Joseph. Josef adopted him as his own child and thus adopted him, so to speak.
Josef cared about the child's well-being, which was rather unusual at the time. Because with the Romans, adoption was a common, legally regulated procedure at that time. But here the continuation of the sex was in the foreground. Often only tried and tested youngsters were accepted who could really help the family to honor.
Early Christianity was opposed to this form of adoption: the early Christian community was very poor and often attracted those in need. So the church needed money. It would be better for wealthy members to leave their money to the Church than to an adopted child.
Growing up without a father
During the Second World War, the children suffered from many hardships: food was missing, bombs fell from the sky, entire cities were destroyed. Many children lacked their father, who served as a soldier in the war and often lost his life.
About a quarter of the children grew up without a father after World War II. The upbringing of these sons and daughters was then often in the hands of the mother alone.
The lack of a male reference point, such as an uncle, could have a negative impact on development. Research today assumes that some of these children developed an insecure personality, that is, they were unable to develop lasting relationships with partners or their own children. Separations and broken contacts with the children were often the result.
The father figure was particularly absent during puberty. In the 1950s, the father still dictated the rules of conduct in the family. The sons in particular revolted against it in everyday life. They aspired to make their own decisions.
The fatherless sons, on the other hand, had hardly any role models or persons of authority with whom they could compete. They also had to take responsibility. In addition to household chores, the mothers also had to earn a living.
Even if fathers returned home from the war, this did not necessarily mean that the role models were fulfilled without any problems: for many of the children, their fathers who had returned were strangers who first had to process what they had experienced during the war before they became one of their own children Were able to build relationships.
After the war, the Allies began denazification in Germany: Millions of Germans were checked and asked how deeply they were rooted in the Nazi system. Despite many convictions, many were able to work again in the same position they had before the end of the war.
Public opinion was dominated by a focus on reconstruction and a desire to end with the past. A large part of the father generation did not want to be reminded of the atrocities of the Nazis.
The children of this generation began to deal with the past and demanded that the Nazi crimes be dealt with. The generation conflict was programmed. It began in the 1950s, developed into the student movement and the so-called '68 revolution. Both sides faced each other on the street.
The uprising was increasingly shaped by violence and reached its climax in the "Red Army Fraction" (RAF) under Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. But the younger generation was not only concerned with coming to terms with the crimes of the National Socialists. They also fought for sexual freedom and equality for women.
The modern father figure
The man goes to work and earns the money. The woman, on the other hand, takes care of the household and looks after the children. This division of roles has been broken up more and more in the past decades.
For many men today it is a matter of course to take an active part in a woman's pregnancy. After giving birth, they often cut the umbilical cord. They change diapers, bathe and feed the little ones. They show feelings and push the pram around in public.
But in order to take the role of a father seriously, everyday life has to be well organized. Because you have to take your time for a child. However, this often means that the professional career can take a turn, because the work has to be restricted.
Many fathers have recognized that close contact with their children is important for their development. You take more time, even if it is sometimes limited.
New legal basis
Playing with the children, reading them a story or listening to their worries: engaging with your own children can take a lot of time. The federal government reacted to this in 2001: Since then, parents have had a legal right to work part-time.
In addition, both parents can take parental leave at the same time. Working fathers can better combine work and family if they so wish.
The parental allowance introduced in 2007 - if the second parent also takes parental leave, if the parental allowance is paid two months longer - is intended to motivate fathers to devote some time exclusively to their child. "Behind this is the conviction: Parents should be able to live family and work equally, and children should have time with both parents," says the Federal Government's 2018 "Fathers Report".
The expected career kink, smiling colleagues and incredulous bosses still prevent many men from taking this step. You work all day, see the children less and only see part of the development.
This professional focus can be disadvantageous in the event of a divorce when a father tries to maintain custody of the child. The clear majority of children (93 percent) still live mainly with their mother after their parents separated, according to the Fathers Report 2018.
However, a father may have better chances if he has looked after the child for part of the week by means of parental leave. He thus demonstrates good will and knowledge of raising children. Representatives of fathers' self-help groups complain, however, that this better position only exists on paper, but in reality fathers with parental part-time work would be just as disadvantaged.
There are fathers who fight for custody in court. Others want to prove in court that they are not the father of a child. Fathers have little chance if they want to challenge paternity in court with secret paternity tests. These are not admissible as evidence, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 2007.
Since 2008, secret tests have even been a criminal offense and can result in fines of several thousand euros. All those involved must submit a written declaration of consent - that is, both the father and mother as well as the child, if it is already an adult.
Affected fathers can, however, request a court order from the family court to have a test carried out against the will of the partner.
In 2019, Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey caused a stir with her demand to improve fathers' rights after a separation. Because after a separation, both parents often wanted to look after the children. It is not acceptable "that the father still has to pay the full maintenance, even if the child spends a lot of time with him and even has his own room". The law here has to be adapted to social reality.
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