UF Law Professor Nancy Dowd: Value fathers for nurturing, not genes or dollars
In her new book, Redefining Fatherhood, scheduled for publication by New York University Press in August, UF law professor and family law expert Nancy Dowd argues that parenthood for men should be redefined as nurturing rather than being thought of in biological or economic terms. “Fatherhood means doing,” she said. “It doesn’t mean paying, it doesn’t mean begetting. Yet society’s notion of what it means to be a father in terms of what we legally require and support conforms with the classic definition of the father as breadwinner, not the father as caregiver.” Traditionally, men have been employed in a different range of jobs that pay more than women’s work, and may be reluctant to spend more time with their children if it means jeopardizing the family’s income, according to Dowd, who feels that to assure that all families have sufficient income while they parent, some sort of family support system must be implemented, possibly modeled after Social Security benefits for widowers, which permits a combination of part-time work and family care. Other improvements she suggests include expanding parental leave policies to allow fathers and mothers to take time off work to care for sick children, attend school conferences or be present at well-child doctor visits. A UF Foundation Research Professor, Trustee Research Fellow, and Professor of Law, Dowd’s areas of expertise include Contracts, Family Law, Employment Discrimination, Women & the Law, and Torts. She was named 1991 Teacher of the Year and has received a Rockefeller Foundation Grant.