The fathers in the video played different roles during the birth of their children. Manoel Oliveira wasn’t present during the birth of his son Sydney, while David Kaufman was with his wife Barbara from the start of labor until the end of delivery. There are varying reasons for the different roles that the two fathers played in the births. The two fathers were from very different cultures. Manoel and his family live in Brazil, and the Kaufmans are from New York City. These two cultures expend different expectations on the role that a mother and father should play in a child’s life from birth. The Oliveira family is large and Maria takes care of the children while Manoel works to support them. Sydney will be their 6th child, and Manoel is at work when Maria goes into labor. It is not financially feasible for Manoel to leave work to be with his wife while she gives birth to their son.
In contrast, David Kaufman waits for the day their baby will be born and is just as excited as his wife. As a result, it’s ok for him to take off of work to be with his wife, it would be strange if he chose to be at work instead. American society looks down on fathers who don’t see their children and families as a number one priority. So, David stays in the delivery room with Barbara from start to finish, and they gaze at their daughter together for the first time. It’s a bonding experience for the whole family. The differences in the roles of these two fathers at the birth of their children have everything to do with the culture they were raised in. David was probably taught from an early age that a father should be a large part of his children’s lives, or it’s been ingrained by the mass media, and peers. The workings of culture involve shared customs, values, and behavior. This includes marriage practices and parental roles. These things are taught to and learned by individuals in that culture, as a result from young age children begin to know the role they should have in the world when they grow up.
Another difference in the culture of Brazil and that of the U.S. is that Brazil is more of a Collectivistic society, while America is much more Individualistic. This affects the parental roles because extended family plays a different part in a baby’s life from one culture to another. Using the example of David and Barbara having a child in America, David is expected to be present for the birth of his daughter. The attendance of the father at a birth is important for the child because mother and father are the centers of a child’s life. If a child asks his/her father about the day they were born and the father tells them that he wasn’t there it may affect that child negatively. When looking at Brazil as a Collectivistic society, and a father not being present at the birth of a child may not be as important for a family dynamic. A child born into a Collectivistic culture will have the support of many other family members and the absence of the father at a child’s birth is viewed as normal.
The contrasting cultures make both situations perfectly acceptable. There are many men in the US that get girls pregnant and never support them or their children. The fact that Manoel wasn’t present for the birth of his son doesn’t make him a bad father compared to David. If Manoel had chosen to leave work to go with Maria to the hospital, people may have looked at him as irresponsible for leaving work. He was simply doing what he had to in order to support his family as he and his culture sees fit. Just as David was supporting his family the way he was culturally supposed to. The only birth that I was present for, aside from my own, was that of my oldest niece. My sister was 16 years old when she gave birth to Sierra, and her boyfriend John was 19. I was at the hospital with my sister and our dad, before John was there. The labor took about 38 hours, so there was a lot of waiting. When she finally started to push, John was in the room with her, for support, but it was his mother that was holding my sister’s hand. There was a group of about 15 family members and friends waiting in the hospital to welcome Sierra into the world.
Now for the birth of my second niece, there was about a third of that amount present. The father of my second niece was there for the entire process, he took my sister to the hospital, and was in the room with her for the duration of the labor. In both situations, the fathers were in the delivery room to support my sister. The differences between these examples are only because of the age and maturity levels of the people involved. In my opinion, a father should be with his partner for the entire pregnancy and birth. It’s a way of taking responsibility and playing an active role in the life of the child from the day its life outside the womb begins. I believe that pregnancy can be very scary for many women, and to have the support of the man that helped her into that condition would calm a lot of fears. In addition to that I think that if the father is present for the pregnancy and the birth of his child, it’s more conducive to a better family dynamic right from the start. I’m positive my opinion is a direct result of being raised in the United States. If I ever have children I would hope that my husband feels the same way, but if I happen to marry a man who was raised seeing things done another way, I will be much more understanding of those differences.