Introduction How fathers engage in risk-taking and safety-related behaviours with their young children plays an important role in injury prevention. Concepts addressed through this gendered analysis included: negotiation of gender roles related to responsibility for child safety, consensus on acceptable risk and fathers perceptions of masculinity.
Purpose To explore fathers perceptions of gender roles and parental beliefs about safety. To explore the impact of dominant masculine ideals on fathers safety-related attitudes and practices.
Method Interviews with fathers of children aged 2–7 years in British Columbia, Canada probed their roles and activities with children, perceptions of risk taking and overprotection, parental responsibilities for child safety. Grounded theory methods guided data analysis.
Results A diverse sample of 32 fathers was interviewed. Fathers identified themselves as protectors with responsibilities for child safety, but focused on outdoor versus home arenas. Many fathers described themselves as more accepting of risks than mothers, though the opposite was also true for some. Mothers were a major source of comfort after injury while fathers focused on assessing seriousness of the injury and teaching. For some fathers, physical consequences of injuries were celebrated as battle scars. For others, children's needs for comforting were dominant.
Conclusion The findings promote understanding of fathers perceptions of their roles as protectors within the gendered family. Conceptions of masculinity provide a way of understanding fathers beliefs around injury prevention. Helpful ideals can be harnessed for positive action while others need to be considered in designing programmes.
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