Seven men are sitting in a shiny leatherette bean bag each. Photographs of heavily pregnant women wearing light fabrics and flowers are hanging on the wall behind them. Every man is carrying a lifelike doll and practicing how to hold them correctly. The baby should rest on the left arm, right arm supporting the head. A young, tall woman, Kira Osipova, is giving the instructions and teaching the men how to bathe babies, fold diapers and clean fictional rolls and cleavages with cotton balls. The men are studying her movements with eyes screwed up tightly and write notes in their note books. They are attending a parents’ school in Saint Petersburg, where they are learning about being active, modern fathers.

The Russian father role is going through a transition. Historically the father’s job was primarily that of a breadwinner’s, but today a new ideal about an active, participating father is being formed. He is expected to take part in the everyday family life. This is news - especially so for the fathers, who often is missing basic knowledge about how to take care of the children and make independent decisions as parents. A new kind of schools are helping to solve this challenge and educate the men in fatherhood. They liberate the fathers through knowledge.

“I can do everything except breastfeeding! I didn’t know that at all before. That was new information to me. New, big information!”

The words are spoken by Sergey Zagustin. He is the father of two-year old Valery and one of the former participants in the father school Aistenok

Besides liberation, the schools also contribute to the equality in the family home. They give the possibility of helping the children. The new knowledge is changing the premise of fatherhood for many men in Russia, Aistenok alumni Alexey Karpov tells:

“I know more about the child, because I have been at the school. It has given me the possibility of having an opinion. Without knowledge it is impossible to have an opinion."

The schools are primarily in the larger Russian cities and the ideal of the modern father exists mainly within the upper middle class.

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