from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A father with his child (2006)

Father means a male parent of a person; his paternity can refer to one, two or all three areas of parenthood:

A person can therefore have more than just one father. In modern small families , all three areas of fatherhood are usually perceived by the mother's ( spouse ) partner , but there are also other forms of parenting, for example single father , stepfather of a stepchild, father in a same-sex marriage , foster father for a foster child or biological sperm donor only .

Word origin

The word "father", like many other family names , is one of the oldest parts of the vocabulary and goes back to a common predecessor of many of today's Indo-European languages . Forms originally related to the German father in related languages ​​are in ancient Indian Sanskrit pitar, Greek pat e r , Latin p a ter , as well as Old Irish athir and New Irish ahir . Gothic fadar has been handed down from the 4th century . German-language variants include Old High German fater (similar to English father ) and finally New High German father .

Common ( Kose ) names for a father are: Vati, Papa , Papi, Paps, Pa, Date ( Tyrol ), Tata ( South Tyrol ), Däta ( Vorarlberg ), Ätti ( Bern ) and dad, daddy ( English ).

The term father is used in other contexts as a founder, causer or producer, for example as "father of thought" or "father of success". In old expressions such as "The fathers said ...", fathers stands for the ancestors (ancestors, ancestors ). In the German-speaking cultural area , fatherland is used in the sense of home . In Christianity , the designation God the Father denotes the paternal nature of the God venerated as a Trinity ( Trinity ).

Fatherhood and biology

Discovery of human fatherhood

The relationship between the sexual act and reproduction can only be derived experimentally; it is not immediately obvious. In contrast to birth, conception cannot be observed. The long period of time between conception and birth does not help to make the connection between them clear. On the contrary: it makes it more difficult to guess a connection. Therefore, for a long time, people did not know that the man fertilized the woman. The ability to reproduce was probably only ascribed to women; only she guaranteed the preservation and increase of the community. Since reproduction was of great importance, women were given a leading role. According to various authors, this state probably lasted throughout the entire Palaeolithic and Mesolithic. Agriculture and cattle breeding emerged with the Neolithic Age. This prompted the women, who primarily looked after the cattle, to make observations that led to the discovery of the connection between sexual intercourse and reproduction. It was probably noticed that the females did not give birth if they were kept apart from the males, or if the males were slaughtered because they were not given any benefit for the reproduction of the cattle. So one day our ancestors discovered that the male animal played a role in producing offspring. From this it was deduced that this also had to apply to humans.

Human fatherhood and hormones

The psychologist Anne Storey of the Memorial University of Newfoundland found in 2000 that the characteristics of fatherhood are mainly shaped by the hormone level during the woman's pregnancy. In a study with couples, she discovered significant changes in the hormonal balance of expectant fathers in cortisol , prolactin and testosterone levels . While prolactin levels rose by around 20%, testosterone levels decreased by an average of a third after birth. The result is a change in behavior on the part of the father to be more caring. Pheromones from the pregnant woman are suspected to be the trigger . Furthermore, hardly any differences were found between biological fathers and “surrogate fathers”.

Fatherhood in the Animal Kingdom

Active fatherhood in the animal kingdom has been observed in the emperor penguins , for example . In 2005 the social researcher Wassilios Fthenakis named further examples from the animal world, such as the stickleback, in his standard work “Fathers” . Here fathers distinguish themselves primarily through brood care . The anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy emphasized that the division of educational tasks develops especially in monogamous relationships in a species, since the males can be relatively sure that they are investing in their own offspring. Thus, among the primates, the active father role of the monogamous marmosets is more pronounced than that of the polygamous chimpanzees .

Fatherhood in law

Establishing paternity

There are three possible options for paternity (in descending order) ( Section 1592 BGB ):

  1. The father of a child is the man who is married to the mother at the time of birth . This rule may not apply if the child was born during the marriage but after a divorce petition . If a child is born within 300 days after the death of the husband, the deceased husband is generally considered to be the father ( Section 1593 BGB).
  2. Father is the man who has recognized fatherhood. The recognition remains pending ineffective as long as another man - for example because of an existing marriage at the time of birth - is considered the father of the child. Only when the pseudo-fatherhood is successfully challenged does the recognition of the father become effective.
  3. Father is the man whose paternity has been established by a court.

For paternity according to 1. and 2. it is not necessary that the legal father is also the biological father of the child. As long as there is no contestation of paternity, husbands are fathers of their wives' children even if they are not the organic producers. A man can also recognize paternity if he and the mother know that he is not the biological father. In the case of a judicial determination (also in the case of 3.) or in the case of a paternity contestation , however, biological paternity is always decisive; any other recognition is then no longer valid.

The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court decided on July 31, 2015 that paternity can only be established after the birth of a child. Legal paternity for an embryo is not provided for under German law. Because of the fundamental importance of the matter, the Senate has admitted the appeal on points of law to the Federal Court of Justice against its decision.

According to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, the legal father has a right to know whether he is also the biological father.

Legal paternity can also be established or changed through adoption .

Section 1600 (2) and (3) BGB state that the biological father cannot contest the paternity of the legal father if the legal father lives with the child in a "social-family" relationship or lived at the time of his death.

According to a decision of the Cologne Higher Regional Court of November 30, 2009, the legal relationship to the child remains unaffected by gender reassignment measures in the parent, even if these took place before the birth; at the registry office, however, the father's former male first name must be entered "in order not to give rise to speculation with third parties and to prevent the risk of disclosure of the transsexuality of a parent".

Legal Consequences of Paternity

The presumption of paternity, the acknowledgment of paternity or the judicial determination of paternity, which has existed in the form known today since the entry into force of the illegitimate law on July 1, 1970, have numerous legal consequences .

A relationship to the child arises between the legal father (and all his relatives ). If the mother is a foreigner and the father is German, the child also receives German citizenship . In such a case, there is permanent dual nationality. In addition, there are rights to refuse to testify ( Section 52 StPO ).

The paternity at the same time establishes the maintenance obligation and also the moral obligation to pay for the maintenance of the child until the completion of an education corresponding to his inclination ( §§ 1601 ff. BGB ). Furthermore, according to § 1615l BGB maintenance claims for the child mother , as well as inheritance claims after the death of the father . The special provisions for illegitimate children (so-called premature inheritance compensation) were abolished by the Childhood Law Reform Act on July 1, 1998.

Social law claims also arise, e.g. B. on co-insurance of the child in the father's health insurance ( family insurance ) as well as entitlement to an orphan's pension in the event of death .

Likewise, the determination of paternity for the child has the consequence that, when they reach the age of majority, they are in principle responsible for their parents.

Fatherhood in the Social Sciences

Father role

Social scientific theories - such as social constructivism - understand that father is the person who perceives the social role of fatherhood, the social father .

The spouse of the mother of an unknowingly illegitimate child, an adoptive father , stepfather or foster father , and, in a broader sense, a partner of a parent who assumes a binding father role towards the child are also considered to be a social father . This father role develops step by step in the relationship with the child and requires mutual readiness for it; the child can be overwhelmed by assuming the role of a father. Are also role conflicts between the father's role and the role as a husband or partner of the mother possible.

Image of masculinity

Hands of father and son

In a report " Facets of Fatherhood " prepared for the Federal Family Ministry, the genealogist Wassilios E. Fthenakis traced the changing image of the father over the past 300 years: He describes the development of the father role from the family patriarch in the 18th century to the worker father, who is increasingly losing authority of the 19th century , the proud sole breadwinner in the economic miracle of the 1950s, the divorced father fighting for custody of the 1980s to the so-called “new father” of the present based on partnership. Despite these changes, the image of the father in the western understanding of culture is still strongly influenced by the role of the family's financial provider, who only intervenes in crisis situations. This makes it difficult for fathers to spend more time in everyday life with their children and to put aside professional interests. Housekeepers who take care of the children's daily needs are still the exception in quantitative terms. Some non-governmental organizations advocate changing the role of the father to an “active”, caring father. In Germany these are for example the Fathers Expert Network Germany eV, the Bundesforum Männer eV and the Fathers Center Berlin .

Data from the Techniker Krankenkasse showed that the proportion of fathers among recipients of child sickness benefit rose continuously from around 18% (2005) to over 22% (2009).


The Mainz psychologist and psychoanalyst Inge Seiffge-Krenke summarized the research results and explained the differences in the parenting behavior of fathers and their role on the offspring in humans.

  • Mothers deal with babies more nursing (z. B. bathing, diaper changes), while fathers imitation games tend. They stimulate the little ones with sounds or optical stimuli .
  • Later, they stimulate the adolescents with exercise and sport and thus promote autonomy and gender-specific role behavior, especially in sons . While more attention is paid to discipline with sons, more emotions and closeness are allowed for daughters.
  • After puberty , they remain an important point of contact, especially on school and professional issues as well as on political issues.

Long-term studies by the sociologists Paul Amato and Alan Booth from Pennsylvania State University showed that the educational level and income of the fathers was commensurate with the educational achievement of the children. In addition, a further study by the Oxford Center for Research into Parenting and Children showed that fathers' commitment to bringing up their sons can significantly reduce later delinquency and protect daughters from psychological stress in later life, while neglecting the upbringing or the complete absence of the father increases it School performance disorders can occur. In addition, adolescents can suffer from a lack of self-confidence and later be more prone to mental illness and addiction problems . However, these vulnerabilities do not necessarily occur after a separation, as a substitute or the active father of the divorce can help stabilize the situation.

Fathers in art

The role of father has been reflected in many ways in the arts. Important examples of the role of the “social father” are the tragedy Hamlet by Shakespeare and, more recently, the feature film Fanny and Alexander by Ingmar Bergman . Fathers, father-son and father-daughter relationships are the central theme of many films, important examples:

See also


  • Frank Dammasch; Hans-Geert Metzger (ed.): The importance of the father. Psychoanalytic Perspectives. Brandes & Apsel, Frankfurt 2006, ISBN 3-86099-820-X .
  • Barbara Drinck: Father Theories . History and perspective. Budrich, Opladen 2005, ISBN 3-938094-22-2 .
  • Wassilios E. Fthenakis : Fathers. Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-423-15046-7 .
  • Wassilios E. Fthenakis, Beate Minsel: The role of the father in the family. Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ), Kohlhammer, Stuttgart u. a. 2002 (Study on the role of father in the development process of families; PDF file; 2.6 MB; 349 pages ; summary of the results: PDF file; 342 kB; 12 pages ).
  • Horst Herrmann : Fatherly love. I just want your best. Rowohlt, Reinbek near Hamburg 1989, ISBN 3-499-18248-3 .
  • Christian Hoenisch among others: Fathers. In: FORUM Sexual Education and Family Planning. No. 2, Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), Cologne 2008 (reader with 7 reports; PDF file; 285 kB; 4 pages ).
  • Tanja Mühling, Harald Rost: Focus on fathers. Family research perspectives. Barbara Budrich, Leverkusen 2007, ISBN 978-3-86649-123-6 .
  • Julia C. Nentwich: How Mothers and Fathers Are Made. Constructions of gender in the distribution of roles in families. In: Journal for Women's Studies & Gender Studies. Volume 18, No. 3, 2000, pp. 96–121.
  • Jens Oenicke: The future father. Zeitgeistfactory, Berlin 2005, ISBN 978-3-9810160-0-0 .
  • Julia Onken : Fathers. A report on the father-daughter relationship and its influence on the partnership. Beck, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-406-37427-1 .
  • Sonja Orel: Secret paternity tests. Prospects for a reform of paternity examination options. Utz, Munich 2007, ISBN 3-8316-0698-6 .
  • Robert Richter, Eberhard Schäfer: The Papa Handbook. Everything you need to know about pregnancy, childbirth and the first year of three. Gräfe & Unzer, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-7742-6975-0 .
  • Robert Richter, Martin Verlinden: From man to father. Practice materials for educational work with fathers. Votum, Münster 2000, ISBN 3-933158-44-3 .
  • Ariane Schorn: Men in transition to fatherhood. The development of the relationship with the child. Psychosocial, Gießen 2003, ISBN 3-89806-233-3 .
  • Jochen Stork (Ed.): Questions about the father. French contributions to a psychoanalytic anthropology. Alber, Freiburg / Munich 1974, ISBN 3-495-47277-0 .
  • Heinz Walter (Ed.): Men as Fathers. Social science theory and empiricism. Psychosocial, Giessen 2002, ISBN 3-89806-140-X .

Web links

Commons : Fathers (fathers)  - collection of pictures and media files
Wiktionary: father  - dad ,  papa ,  paternity - names, explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Father  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. James George Frazer : The Golden Bough. Volume 5-6. Robarts, Toronto 1914, pp. ?? (English; German: The golden branch ).
  2. ^ Jean Przyluski : La grande déesse: introduction à l'étude comparative des religions. Payot, Paris 1950, pp. ?? (French).
  3. ^ Jean Markale: Women of the Celts. Paris / London a. a. 1972, p. ?? (English; limited preview in Google Book Search).
  4. ^ Jacques Dupuis: Au nom du pére: Une histoire de la paternité. Le Rocher, Monaco 1987, ISBN 2-2680-0511-9 , pp. ?? (French).
  5. ^ Pierre Moussa : Notre aventure humaine. Éditions Grasset, Paris 2005, p. ?? (French).
  6. a b c d Judith Rauch : Caring men: The new image of the father. In: Spiegel Online . April 25, 2006, accessed February 27, 2014.
  7. Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court, press release: No. 13/2015 No determination of paternity under German law for embryos abroad. August 4, 2015, accessed March 13, 2019.
  8. ^ Judgment of the Federal Constitutional Court: AZ 1 BvR 421/05. February 13, 2007, accessed March 13, 2019.
  9. ^ Higher Regional Court Cologne, decision: Higher Regional Court Cologne, 16 Wx 94/09. November 30, 2009, accessed on March 13, 2019.
    See also the message: Transsexual parents: When a woman is the "father". . In: Süddeutsche.de . May 17, 2010, accessed March 13, 2019.
  10. Modern fathers: swap desk for changing table. In: press kit. Techniker Krankenkasse In: News, July 13, 2010, accessed on July 15, 2010 .