Date of Award

8-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Health Education

First Advisor

Miller, Kim

Abstract

In the United States, the state of fathering has been a concern across all racial groups. Approximately 73% of Black men father children prior to marriage in comparison to 56% of Hispanic men and 30% of White men. The proportion of children born outside of marriage rose from 40% to 47% between 2002 and 2006-2010 (Martinez, Daniels, & Chandra, 2012). Shifts in economic opportunities, cultural, social, and political factors have strong influences on the way in which fatherhood is defined, experienced, and judged. Although there is a plethora of research on fathering involvement in the area of non-resident fathering, this research is dominated by a sampling pool of middle-class European Americans. The purpose of this study was to examine parenting practices of non-residential African American fathers residing in the Midwest. I explored how these men defined what it meant to be a father and their perceptions of the influences on their fathering behaviors. Ten African American non-residential fathers from the Midwest were interviewed utilizing a phenomenological interview approach. Data were collected using one-hour semi-structured interviews that were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The data were then critically and rigorously analyzed, utilizing a four part coding, data analytic method including (1) applying open coding to identify emerging concepts, (2) applying in vivo coding by grouping similar comments into categories based on their common properties, (3) applying axial coding to group codes and to create themes, and (4) organized themes into categories that was based on the theory of planned behavior constructs. Five thematic domains (i.e. external variables, attitudes towards behavior, subjective norms, perceived control, and intentions), along with seventeen themes emerged from the phenomenology data analysis procedure including: bonding, father vs. sperm donor, father warmth, identity, father roles, influences, number of children, parent’s individual differences, sex and age of the child, employment, financial support, emotions, inter-parental conflict, inter-parental relationships, relationship quality, distance, and limit setting. Findings from this study lead to several recommendations for ways to strengthen the role of fathers within the non-residential family dynamic, with the ultimate goal of improving the health and well-being of all the members of the family.

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