Exploring the Links between Fathering, Masculinities and Health and Well-Being for Migrant Fathers: Implications for Policy and Practice

Main Article Content

Elizabeth Adamson
James A. Smith


Fathers’ uptake of paternity leave and care of children is shaped by various factors, including structural
barriers and gender norms, which influence masculine identity formation. Such barriers to accessing leave and caring for children are thus influenced by a complex intersection of individual and institutional factors. Focusing on Australia, this article looks at migrant fathers’ decisions about parental leave and caregiving, and its intersection with gender (masculinities) and culture (race/ethnicity). We do so to unpack the structural barriers these men face, including those that influence their (mental) health and well-being. The authors identify a gap in research, and argue that there is a need to better understand the intersection of gender and culture on migrant fathers’ decisions to access parental leave and care for children. A better understanding of these decisions is integral to building better policy and programme supports for different groups of fathers and, ultimately, improving their mental health and well-being. It also identifies the need for research and policy to recognise the diversity of “migrant” fathers in both quantitative and qualitative research.

Article Details

Author Biography

Elizabeth Adamson, Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing - Norther Territory, Menzies School of Health Research

Freemasons Centre for Male Health and Wellbeing - Northern Territory, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, Australia


1. Parents at Work and L. Peach, National Working Families Report 2019. 2019. http://parentsandcarersatwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/NWFSurvey-Executive-Summary.pdf
2. Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Designing and supporting gender equitable parental leave: Insight Paper. 2019. https://www.wgea.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/Insight_paper_designing_and_supporting_gender_equitable_parental_leave.pdf
3. van der Gaag, N., et al., State of the world’s fathers: Unlocking the power of men’s care. Washington, DC: Promundo-US, 2019. https://men-care.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2019/06/SOWF-2019_006_WEB.pdf
4. Borgkvist, A., et al., ‘I might be a bit of a front runner’: An analysis of men's uptake of flexible work arrangements and masculine identity. Gender, Work & Organization, 2018. 25(6): p. 703-717. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/gwao.12240?casa_token=OuyBQofsomcAAAAA:EyyIx-CPEWhqJsOzBHz7zZjv0KHaxPIIajfhLNR6xsAGu9QW4gU0vb5NQh3Wx1KcMD6gbB8xD7G8U8EE
5. Edwards, R., A. Doucet, and F.F. Furstenberg, Fathering across diversity and adversity: International perspectives and policy interventions. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 2009. 624(1): p. 6-11. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0002716209334347?casa_token=vRYWhev5HqkAAAAA:Q2Av3CiGumje93hm7iholcvdz_9u4_1SUeaFZIUlXxlZusXvcCzPkKTABsFJDHNHDTWNZ5w9iHvJQg
6. Roopnarine, J.L., Fathers Across Cultures: The Importance, Roles, and Diverse Practices of Dads: The Importance, Roles, and Diverse Practices of Dads. 2015: ABC-CLIO.
7. Żadkowska, M., et al., When migrant men become more involved in household and childcare duties – the case of Polish migrants in Norway. Journal of Family Studies, 2020: p. 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13229400.2020.1712222
8. Trąbka, A. and K. Wojnicka, Self-positioning as a man in transnational contexts: constructing and managing hybrid masculinity. NORMA, 2017. 12(2): p. 144-158. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/18902138.2017.1341768?casa_token=QCbVryJQeioAAAAA:A7gwc_nOXCPKhIQCQ0ncgy1lKNzptWyxIwP0o3BQPkbRKfGXzyzBbVpkbDYEWmS-xptN0J8Xa91CcA
9. Wojnicka, K. and P. Pustułka, Research on men, masculinities and migration: past, present and future. NORMA, 2019. 14(2): p. 91-95. https://doi.org/10.1080/18902138.2019.1622058
10. Irvine, H., M. Livingstone, and M. Flood, The Man Box: A study on being a young man in Australia. 2018, Brisbane, Australia: Queensland University of Technology. https://jss.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/The-Man-Box-A-study-on-being-a-young-man-in-Australia.pdf
11. Heilman, B., G. Barker, and A. Harrison, The man box: A study on being a young man in the US, UK, and Mexico. 2017: Promundo. https://promundoglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/TheManBox-Full-EN-Final-29.03.2017-POSTPRINT.v3-web.pdf
12. Griffith, D.M., An intersectional approach to men's health. Journal of Men's Health, 2012. 9(2): p. 106-112. https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/24535/Intersectional_Approach_to_Men%27s_Health.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
13. Giallo, R., et al., The physical and mental health problems of refugee and migrant fathers: findings from an Australian population-based study of children and their families. BMJ Open, 2017. 7(11): p. e015603. https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/bmjopen/7/11/e015603.full.pdf
14. José Santos, S., MenCare in Latin America: Challenging Harmful Masculine Norms and Promoting Positive Changes in Men’s Caregiving. 2015: Promundo-US, Sonke Gender Justice and the Institute of Development Studies. https://opendocs.ids.ac.uk/opendocs/bitstream/handle/20.500.12413/7069/EMERGECaseStudyLAC.pdf?sequence=1
15. Borgkvist, A., et al., “Unfortunately I’ma Massively Heavy Sleeper” An Analysis of Fathers’ Constructions of Parenting. Men and Masculinities, 2018: p. 1097184X18809206. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1097184X18809206?casa_token=9lpPjWKelboAAAAA:LV4wVTFGZpVjgBIc6ADAOOpbXFPvANIMmUHUyzF8hoHTeV6kUOYG925TWKOKdOHIayEegACka4Rfzw
16. Lewis, J., The Decline of the Male Breadwinner Model: Implications for Work and Care. Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 2001. 8(2): p. 152-169. http://sp.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/2/152.short
17. Nomaguchi, K. and W. Johnson, Parenting Stress Among Low-Income and Working-Class Fathers: The Role of Employment. Journal of Family Issues, 2014. 37(11): p. 1535-1557. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X14560642
18. Hewitt, B., et al. Australian Fathers’ Use of Leave for Parenting: Changing Patterns and Policy Implications. 2014.
19. Baxter, J.A., Gender role attitudes within couples, and parents' time in paid work, child care and housework. 2015, Australian Institute of Family Studies: Melbourne. https://aifs.gov.au/3-gender-role-attitudes-within-couples-and-parents-time-paid-work-child-care-and-housework
20. Cooklin, A.R., et al., What matters for working fathers? Job characteristics, work-family conflict and enrichment, and fathers' postpartum mental health in an Australian cohort. Social Science & Medicine, 2015. 146: p. 214-222. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953615301301
21. Mussino, E., A.-Z. Duvander, and L. Ma, Does time count? Immigrant fathers’ use of parental leave for a first child in Sweden. Population, 2018. 73(2): p. 363-382. https://www.cairn-int.info/article-E_POPU_1802_0381--does-time-count-immigrant-fathers.htm
22. Tervola, J., A.-Z. Duvander, and E. Mussino, Promoting Parental Leave for Immigrant Fathers—What Role Does Policy Play? Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society, 2017. 24(3): p. 269-297. https://academic.oup.com/sp/article/24/3/269/4036279
23. Smyth, B.M., et al., Fathers in Australia: A contemporary snapshot, in Fathers in Cultural Context, D.W. Shwalb, B.J. Shwalb, and M.E. Lamb, Editors. 2013, Routledge: New York. p. 361-382.
24. Coles, L., B. Hewitt, and B. Martin, Contemporary fatherhood: Social, demographic and attitudinal factors associated with involved fathering and long work hours. Journal of Sociology, 2018. 54(4): p. 591-608. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1440783317739695?casa_token=8nkLquUZROUAAAAA:cUSNaRaD2C9DJ7cAyk4zBx8dRw-jj0oF9Cx5LRlx1Xf5c2VifsFNeh-pCL8pTqFkYiMrSWDuucbNbw
25. Elliott, K., Caring Masculinities: Theorizing an Emerging Concept. Men and Masculinities, 2016. 19(3): p. 240-259. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1097184X15576203?casa_token=75Dt2rk1EXsAAAAA:Vfb4gpszeU8hXYk35m_xgJ8iLyy86n04msSbTC8SqiKnSk4Ixts-_qsZksMmvBWY65AiAog7W2u6kQ
26. Hunter, S.C., D.W. Riggs, and M. Augoustinos, Hegemonic masculinity versus a caring masculinity: Implications for understanding primary caregiving fathers. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2017. 11(3): p. e12307. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/spc3.12307?casa_token=_qkjQdxwTicAAAAA:kqww-a0WS67PQuMfi4BfA-h16QVmqe3nyJZxpWwwaoPrI5Dusr28c181BqPAzjJ8DTEdHIfEWBPswwmm
27. Evans, J., et al., Health, illness, men and masculinities (HIMM): a theoretical framework for understanding men and their health. Journal of Men's Health, 2011. 8(1): p. 7-15. https://drum.lib.umd.edu/bitstream/handle/1903/24529/Health,_Illness,_Men_and_Masculinity.pdf?sequence=1
28. Griffith, D.M., K. Gunter, and D.C. Watkins, Measuring masculinity in research on men of color: Findings and future directions. American journal of public health, 2012. 102(S2): p. S187-S194. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477919/
29. Anderson, P. and C. Daley, African-Caribbean fathers: The conflict between masculinity and fathering. Fathers across cultures: The importance, roles, and diverse practices of dads, 2015: p. 13-38.
30. Mukandi, B., et al., “So we tell them”: articulating strong Black masculinities in an urban Indigenous community. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 2019. 15(3): p. 253-260. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/1177180119876721?casa_token=6duKmFuBI-4AAAAA:otuC8GL1hTrDaxmg9mB6t1l3sVzIKwBSNSFglMkXS5GnVY7lPLkIYcIJlub4h4H2ibAQCs7ffoTJeg
31. Choi, S.Y.P., Migration, masculinity, and family. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 2019. 45(1): p. 78-94. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369183X.2018.1427562
32. Kvande, E. and B. Brandth, Individualized, non-transferable parental leave for European fathers: Migrant perspectives. Community, Work & Family, 2017. 20(1): p. 19-34. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13668803.2016.1270258?casa_token=e-gCbZaHqR0AAAAA:uiWMun5EfjGVj05u28cC6NUJrr9HHvnWjIB8iV_zKXrGpK_qhI3ZQYTTXIRIiJhpsu8_iemTSC1OSQ
33. Santero, A. and M. Naldini, Migrant parents in Italy: gendered narratives on work/family balance. Journal of Family Studies, 2017: p. 1-16. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13229400.2017.1345319?casa_token=JsTSEw2JzfUAAAAA:uxPMGnitw9JR1339du27UHRIT7XBljesZ1Dq96Li77RYCV1fWaqtM_yjNdyJjDSvWgxPI4dNG8PLww
34. Barker, G., et al., Questioning gender norms with men to improve health outcomes: evidence of impact. Global public health, 2010. 5(5): p. 539-553. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/17441690902942464?casa_token=KQXllnmvk3UAAAAA:CUgzSQCfm50mfDjyBLceYUVJC3HnJ2E7Ydzg-R6ZJr1GPxjholyh3KlBQ4YdxLGTCK0wWuxSnm-r1Q
35. Dworkin, S., P. Fleming, and C. Colvin, The Promises and Limitations of Gender-transformative Health Programming with Men: Critical Reflections from the Field. Culture Health & Sexuality, 2015. 17. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13691058.2015.1035751?needAccess=true
36. Fleming, P., J. Lee, and S. Dworkin, “Real Men Don't”: Constructions of Masculinity and Inadvertent Harm in Public Health Interventions. American journal of public health, 2014. 104: p. 1029-35. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4062033/
37. Robertson, S., et al., Promoting mental health and wellbeing with men and boys: What works? 2015. http://eprints.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/1508/1/Promoting_MentalHealth__Wellbeing_FINAL.pdf
38. Leach, L.S., There remains a need for greater awareness and further research on fathers’ stress in the perinatal period. Evidence-based nursing, 2018: p. ebnurs-2017-102834.
39. Oliffe, J.L. and M.J. Phillips, Men, depression and masculinities: A review and recommendations. Journal of Men's Health, 2008. 5(3): p. 194-202. https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/36428793/Men__depression_and_masculinities_A_review_and_recommendations.pdf?response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DMen_depression_and_masculinities_A_revie.pdf&X-Amz-Algorithm=AWS4-HMAC-SHA256&X-Amz-Credential=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A%2F20200320%2Fus-east-1%2Fs3%2Faws4_request&X-Amz-Date=20200320T041844Z&X-Amz-Expires=3600&X-Amz-SignedHeaders=host&X-Amz-Signature=e3577fb84610905b31987253a6e2b59ab44c32658cdfaefec9a729e7b038487a
40. Courtenay, W.H., Constructions of masculinity and their influence on men's well-being: a theory of gender and health. Social science & medicine, 2000. 50(10): p. 1385-1401. http://www.postpartummen.com/pdfs/SS%26M.PDF