Paternità impreviste. Padri omosessuali e relazione con i servizi educativi e la scuola
Within an increasingly open and composite scenario of practices and representations of paternity, the article is focused on the ways couples of homosexual fathers experience their relationship with the educational services attended by their children. The contribution, based on the qualitative data of the Family Lives research, explores in particular the ways in which a men’s couple with children represents a sort of “double unexpected phenomenon” from a symbolic point of view for the professionals working in educational services and its possible consequences. On the one hand, these couples represent an unforeseen family pattern as far as concerns the parental bond between two fathers and their children, a bond that at this time in Italy does not enjoy legal recognition or a collectively shared and accepted morphology; on the other hand, the unexpected dimension refers to the disruption of a set of expectations and implicit beliefs about gender roles that shades light on the lack of acquaintance of early childhood professionals with the idea of a male figure as a primary caregiver. The research is based on the analysis of ten gay fathers’ narrative interviews. All the fathers have children attending child care or preschool in Italy. The results highlight the main critical issues experienced by the parents as they enter the educational settings and involving, more in general, their relationship with school staff and other actors in the context: the role of cultural models centered on the mother figure and the maternal symbolic sphere in the professionals’ and in the other parents’ attitudes and practices; the pressure experienced by fathers to become visible as “very good parents”, and to actively invest in their children’s and their family’s social inclusion; the tendency to self-attribute the task of supporting, in different ways, the educational staff in knowing, understanding, and putting into act inclusive approaches to family diversity.
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