Twenty-five primary care-giving (PCG) fathers, defined as those providing sole child-care for their one-year-old infant for at least 20 waking hours a week, completed semi-structured interviews as part of a large two-centre English study of child care. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed and analysed using emergent theme analysis. Themes with a bearing on the fathersí explicit and implicit reasons for providing relatively high levels of sole child-care were grouped using an iterative process of independent analysis, comparison and rechecking.
Reasons included motherís and fatherís employment situation and relative earning power, the absence of acceptable alternative child care, perceptions of societal values, maternal and paternal health, family history and ideological values. Flexibility of paternal employment, or its relative unimportance, along with motivation or willingness on the part of the father to share in child care were invariably present. For some, the fact that one or other of their own parents having been emotionally distant or physically absent had led to a determination to do things differently with their own children. Fathers reported that they valued the increased time spent with their child, even if they had not been consciously motivated beforehand.