Scholars have documented multiple influences on family food practices. This article examines an overlooked contributor to family diet: fathers. Using 109 in-depth interviews with middle and upper-middle class mothers, adolescents, and fathers in the United States, I show how fathers can undermine mothers' efforts to provision a healthy diet. While family members perceive mothers as committed to provisioning a healthy diet, many fathers are seen as, at best, detached and, at worst, a threat to mothers' dietary aspirations. Fathers not only do little foodwork; they are also viewed as less concerned about their own and other family members' dietary health. When tasked with feeding, many fathers often turn to quick, unhealthy options explicitly avoided by mothers. Mothers report efforts to limit fathers' involvement in foodwork to ensure the healthiness of adolescents' diets, with variation across families by mothers' employment status. Fathers' dietary approaches reflect and reinforce traditional gender norms and expectations within families. In highlighting how and why fathers can undermine mothers’ efforts to provision a healthy diet, this study deepens our understanding of the myriad dynamics shaping family food practices.
Appetite – Elsevier
Published: Oct 1, 2017
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