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Table 4 Select illustrative quotes supporting the various factors that influence and explain paternal and maternal parenting roles

From: “His mind will work better with both of us”: a qualitative study on fathers’ roles and coparenting of young children in rural Pakistan

Levels and sub-themes with supporting quotes Respondent
Individual factors
 Child age
 Child age
If the child is very young then in that case mother can go along with the father for doctor’s checkup. But if the child is grown up and can sit on the bike, then father can take the child with him by themselves. If the child is younger or if the child is very sick, then in that case mother can go along with his husband and child.
When a child is young, he is in his mother’s lap. He is in her hands night and day. She is closest to her mother, so her mother has a greater hand.
FGD, mothers
Family 26, father
 Paternal residential status I sometimes feel his absence when my husband is not here. I have to take them to the doctor and there is issue of car. Then it is difficult for me. There is money but I feel his absence that it is difficult to take to the doctors. Family 27, mother
 Paternal residential status I am a laborer and work and live in Karachi and come after 3 months. Then whatever number of days I spend here [back in Naushehro Feroze] I try to keep my children happy and I play with them… His mother is more responsible for that [feeding the child] because I come home after two or three months… I have the role that I earn for him, fulfill his needs, the rest I do if I am at home. But right now I am not at home so his mother cares for everything... my wife is the one who plays with him and spend time together with him. Family 15, father
 Paternal employment I am very attached to my children. My husband isn’t attached that much because he is busy. He has a job and spends most of his day busy at work. He comes back home at 7. If a man spends his whole day working and comes back in the evening, what time will he be able to give to his children? You can imagine, so taking care of them is all my responsibility. I personally feel that my children are closer to me because my husband is out most of the time. Family 20, mother
 Paternal education Actually my wife is illiterate and I am educated. So I teach him accordingly. I want that my son becomes [educated] like the way I am. I teach him words and their pronunciation. I show him pictures in books. Family 18, father
 Maternal education First I don’t have an education like today’s girls who do and have jobs, and I don’t have a skill. I just do house chores. I don’t know stitching or embroidery. We were poor so we don’t have an education and neither did we learn anything. If my husband is not there and doesn’t do labor or hard work, so I will need everything. Family 24, mother
 Maternal education I say to my husband that I am illiterate you teach him how to write and read. He [the child’s father] knows everything and makes him remember and he makes children learn and writes for the child. Family 29, mother
Extended family
 Siblings His older brother plays with him, and they both play together 24/7. They play hide and seek or they play with toys like cars and motorcycles. And then when their father comes he also plays with them. They don’t look like father and sons, but all look like brothers. Family 33, mother
 Uncles Yes his paternal uncle has a hand. If I am not free, then he takes him out for outing. He says, “He is crying so I am taking him out”. Family 7, father
 Uncles He [child’s father] asks on the phone [about taking child to doctor], but most of the time I go with my brother in law because my husband is away for work most of the time. Family 5, mother
 Neighborhood I take him to the national highway. There’s a petrol pump and he sees cars so he gets happy. Sometimes I take him to Naushero Feroze to the flour mill. He looks at the machine and how it’s working. Family 29, father
 Neighborhood There are no children’s parks [playgrounds] near our home. There’s only one near the national highway. He takes her [child] there, but only when he has a day off from work. Family 19, mother
Social, economic, cultural factors
 Poverty I want to buy nice toys for him, but I am unable to because of poverty, because of not enough money. The money I get from labor is used in the house and then are all finished. So no money for children’s small necessities. Family 28, father
 Poverty Our difficulty is that I do not have money. If I had money, children will also be happy and so will we. Family 4, father
 Gender norms
 Gender norms
I am a woman and a woman will only be able to see the inside environment. The husband sees the outside. But if he is not there, then the wife will not be able to raise the children on her own and purchase needs from outside.
If a woman can earn at home [informally by stitching fabric], then why is there a need to go out? At home she can do stitching and earn money from home if she works hard. But other than that earning from outside is a man’s responsibility. He has more physical power than her and the hard labor that a man can do a woman cannot. There aren’t jobs here where our women can work.
Family 19, mother
FGD, father