This article provides an overview of the contemporary Western context in which men become fathers and ideals of fatherhood are constructed. The parameters of fatherhood are much less clearly drawn than those associated with motherhood, but both are shaped by gendered "choices" and constraints which operate across the home and work spheres. The article examines European policy changes which have helped to shape societal ideas and ideals about fatherhood (and motherhood) responsibilities as well as tracing the changes in the focus of research agendas in relation to men’s lives as fathers and constructions of caring responsibilities. An overview of the theoretical and methodological tools used to explore how paternal involvement is anticipated, practised and narrated amongst a group of UK men becoming fathers for the first time is also provided.
Keywords: Narratives, Fatherhood, Motherhood, Policies, Gendered Discourses