Date of Award

12-7-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Degree Program

Global Leadership - with a specialization in Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Judith Adelson

Second Advisor

William Leary

Third Advisor

Angie McDonald

Abstract

With a disproportionate percentage of black children growing up in fatherless homes in the U.S. and an increasing concern over the state of fatherhood nationally, investigation of fathering in the African American community is essential. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of nonresidential African American fathers and how their parenting beliefs and behaviors have been transmitted to them from their fathers and grandfathers. The theoretical framework of the study included the Responsible Fathering Conceptual Model and Family Systems Theory. Through qualitative, exploratory research methodology, the perceptions of African American fathers who do not reside in the same home as their children were investigated using in depth interviews. A sample size of 20 participants was selected using purposeful, maximum variation sampling procedures, with variations in educational and income levels. Participants were interviewed using pre-selected questions in a semi-structured interview, and interviews typically lasted between 1-2 hours.

Data collected during this study included demographic profile questionnaires, audio-taped interviews and transcriptions of interviews, and investigator written memos and notes. Using the grounded theory approach, the data was analyzed through techniques such as line-by-line analysis, interpreting data "chunks," open, axial and selective coding, and constantly comparing individual and collective participants' responses.

Results indicate that respondents often obtain fathering beliefs and behaviors from father figures "by example." The term "by example" was frequently used by participants to communicate the process of observing the behaviors and value systems of their father figures and mimicking similar behaviors and values to their children. Participants' nonresidential status many times interfered with their ability to demonstrate fathering behaviors to their children on a daily basis. Future research should continue to investigate the concept of "by example" as well as repeat the study at the national level using a larger sample size to increase the trustworthiness and understanding of the findings. Future studies should also further investigate hypothesized concepts that did not have enough supporting evidence or were not the focus of this study including the residuals of slavery, legal issues and the deadbeat dad stereotype, and the impact of the first African American president of the U.S.

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