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Medieval Fatherhood

The ‘hands-on’ parenting style, so often thought to be unique to modern western society, has deep roots in the family life of the Middle Ages, argues Rachel Moss.

Illustration from 'Le livre des Proprietes des Choses' by Barthelemy Anglais, 15th century. Fathers matter. That is the message given by psychologists and sociologists, by government think tanks and by grassroots organisations, such as Families Need Fathers. Recent research suggests that good relationships between fathers and their offspring result in higher educational attainment, greater emotional well-being and fewer behavioural problems. Some researchers believe that fathers' involvement in their children's lives is at an all-time high; one child psychiatrist, Kyle Pruett, claimed in 2008 that 'the number of men interested in co-parenting is higher than it's ever been', reflecting an increasing interest among men in playing a hands-on, nurturing role in their children's lives.

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