Theorising the ‘deliberative father’: compromise, progress and striving to do fatherhood well

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review



This article presents qualitative data collected during a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council exploring 11 men’s experience of first-time fatherhood. It draws specifically on data from interviews conducted after the birth of their child, to present three different ways that men attempt to construct ‘fairness’ in their fathering practice. It uses this data to begin to theorise the ‘deliberative father’, which is presented as a morally progressive form of fatherhood that focuses on process rather than practice. Three counter-arguments are considered, with particular attention paid to Reece’s (2013) argument against thin conceptions of ‘reflective’ parenting. The article concludes that deliberative fatherhood is not morally progressive because the process of deliberation ensures morally optimal practice. Rather, it is morally progressive because the process of deliberation makes morally optimal practice possible.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-294
JournalFamilies, Relationships and Societies
Issue number2
Early online date23 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • fathers, fatherhood, moral progress, compromise, parenting