Taking the child to the doctor, school or worrying about the child’s future. The 21st century is here to show that parenting does not need, and should not, be exercised only by the mother. It is precisely around the relationship between the father figure and the children that the psychologist and master in Education, Ingrid Konrath , focuses on “Paternidade – Um percurso para aprender e ensinar sobre o ser pai” .
The book is the result of field research originating from the master’s thesis in Education with an emphasis on Psychoanalysis and Culture. In this study, to seek to better understand the complexities of fatherhood, the author spoke to fathers to find out what they feel and have to say about the experiences and responsibilities of being in this role. From this intimate dialogue with men of different ages and, mainly, with children in early childhood, Ingrid uncovers crucial questions about coexistence, doubts, and challenges they face.
The eight chapters of the publication are constructed from fragments of awareness that parents have about their experiences with their children. The author covers themes such as the symbolic function of the father figure, responsibilities, lack and absence. It also interweaves the research with global and national data on family behavior and analyzes the social impositions of parents.
The specialist identifies, through psychoanalysis, that the paternal relationship largely resides in male silence, the lack of dialogue and the difficulty of expression in this field. The main observation is, however, that the contemporary father wants to change, be a more sensitive, affectionate figure and have more time for upbringing and family leisure. He begins to trace a path of rejection of the traditional “tough” father, cold and distant, a likely reference from his own childhood.
How does your field research help readers understand the complexities of fatherhood?
When studying the topic of parent-child relationships, we cannot fail to take into account that we will find a greater number of studies that refer to the mother’s relationship with her children. As well as the importance of the mother’s role in the relationship with the child. Even today, the role of the father in the exercise of paternity is little studied and little researched by the Human Sciences.
We can say that the Western man suffered an “amputation” in his role in view of the prerogatives attributed to the mother. The child is right when he says: “the father left in the car”. The scientific research I carried out in my master’s degree and this book are not intended to devalue the experience of motherhood. I want to bring the father closer to the child.
What themes do you explore in the eight chapters of your book “Paternidade – Um percurso para aprender e ensinar sobre o ser pai”?
Writing about the father today is a great challenge, given the plurality that culture offers. The research I carried out in 1996 was revisited and updated with the aim of responding and remaining alive in the 21st century. Still maintaining the same concerns:
– What do parents think about parenthood?
– How is the paternal role nowadays?
– What does being a father mean to a man?
– What’s it like to be a father?
– How is he thinking about issues of authority?
– How is the father-son relationship today?
The chapters of the book were organized based on these topics, previously mentioned. They receive a tone, based on what was raised by the parents’ speech. It is a successive trigger. The tone is permeated by this voice, which remains singular. The voice of each subject, here the father, like a portrait that speaks for itself (p24). Throughout my practice at the Psychology clinic, I continue to guide fathers, mothers and families. This daily work was guided by this study and the book emerges as a result of both.
When using psychoanalysis, how do you identify the relevance of male silence in the paternal relationship?
Male silence “is filled with doubts and fears, because, for these men, the model they have to follow is their mother, her way of taking care of the children and the house” ( Konrath , 2022, p.110). Fear is present and for these men, living it in a stereotypical way often becomes less dangerous. In general, people fear finding themselves lost. And with that, they lose the direction of their lives and forget their deepest dreams and desires, their own identity.
What does your book reveal about the shift in the representation of contemporary fathers in relation to the traditional stereotype?
The change in the contemporary father is when he himself realizes he is acting according to the more traditional model, he ends up calling himself “wrong”. Culture no longer understands the behavior of a distant and harsh father as being correct. The father today is marked by tolerance, friendship and understanding. You also need to be more active and participatory in education and in everyday life with the child. To be able to assert yourself in front of the mother and child and to be able to exercise your authority.
How do you connect psychoanalytic theories, statistics and real experiences to bring meaning to everyday relationships between parents and children?
Nowadays, psychoanalytic discourse is very present, and assumes a place of authority in the task of guiding and teaching about children and families. Both in the area of health and in the area of education, psychologists and doctors play an important role. Culture is no longer scandalized by the terms and approaches of psychoanalysis as it was in Freud’s time. Talking about anxiety, conflicts, the Oedipus complex, sexuality, child or female psychology is already highly sought after and appreciated. The psychologist and psychoanalyst now have the authority to address these issues.
Could you share a metaphor or approach you use in the book, such as the idea of letting your child fly ?
Letting the child fly is actually a metaphor that I use in the preface to the book Paternity (2022), on page 14 to refer to my concerns when returning to this topic, which was the theme of the master’s degree held at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 1996. The concern at this time when I returned to writing about the topic was to share the knowledge and learning, which had accompanied me in clinical practice for so many years. Now I needed to let it fly, discover other voices and other places. How a father needs to let his son move on.
According to your research, how does the contemporary father want to distance himself from the traditional stereotype and be more sensitive and affectionate?
Yes, I realized that it is something that emerges from the speech of the parents interviewed in my research; the concern and desire to achieve a connection with their children that did not exist in their relationship with their father. “Seeking to have more free time for leisure, rejecting a traditional masculine culture, breaking with the model of his childhood, in which his father was tough, maintaining a cold and distant stance, aiming to repair his own childhood. ( Konrath , 2022, p.110). I realize, however, that it is something much more desired than achieved and nowadays it is clear that men are divided between what they inherited from their parents and what they would like to be.
*Reference source: Konrath , Ingrid. Paternidade – Um percurso para aprender e ensinar sobre o ser pai. Porto Alegre: Secco Editora, 2022.
Follow Ingrid Konrath on Instagram