Erin M. Rehel, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, OH 44555; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Drawing from 85 semi-structured interviews with fathers and mothers in three cities (Montreal, Toronto, and Chicago), I argue that when fathers in heterosexual couples experience the transition to parenthood in ways that are structurally comparable to mothers, they come to think about and enact parenting in ways that are more similar to mothers. I consider the specific role played by extended time off immediately after the birth of a child in structuring that experience. By drawing fathers into the daily realities of child care, free of workplace constraints, extended time off provides the space necessary for fathers to develop the parenting skills and sense of responsibility that then allows them to be active co-parents rather than helpers to their female partners. This shift from a manager-helper dynamic to that of coparenting creates the opportunity for the development of a more gender-equitable division of labor.