Academic journal article Fathering

Nonresident Fathers' Family Leisure Patterns during Parenting Time with Their Children

Academic journal article Fathering

Nonresident Fathers' Family Leisure Patterns during Parenting Time with Their Children

Article excerpt

The purpose of the study was to examine the leisure patterns of nonresident fathers while spending time with their child(ren), and to examine leisure constraints, leisure facilitators and nonresident fathers' satisfaction with family leisure activities. Four instruments were used to collect the data. Family leisure involvement was measured using the Family Leisure Activity Profile (FLAP), leisure constraints were measured using the Nonresident Father Leisure Constraint Scale (NFLCS), leisure facilitators were measured using the Nonresident Fathers' Leisure Facilitator Scale (NFLFS), and family leisure satisfaction was measured using the Family Leisure Satisfaction Scale (FLSS). The sample was nonresident fathers (N = 129) from 36 states in the U.S. The data supported leisure constraints as a significant predictor of nonresident fathers' satisfaction with family leisure involvement, and their family leisure patterns. The data did not support, however, leisure facilitators as contributing to fathers' satisfaction with family leisure involvement or leisure patterns.

Keywords: nonresident fathers, parenting time, nonresident fathers' leisure, leisure constraints, leisure facilitators, family leisure satisfaction

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As divorce rates have increased, the number of nonresident fathers has also increased (Pasley & Braver, 2004). Nonresident fathers' involvement following divorce has been found to aid children academically, socially, and emotionally (Menning, 2002). Although this involvement is important, little is known regarding the context of the involvement. Stewart (1999) determined that "most nonresident parents either engage in only leisure activities with their child(ren) or have no contact" (p. 539). Nevertheless, nonresident fathers' leisure with their children has received little attention in the research literature (Menning; Pasley & Braver); yet, it may play a significant role in understanding nonresident fathers' involvement with their child(ren) following divorce.

Only a small percentage of nonresident fathers continue to see their child(ren) after a five-year period following divorce (Blankenhorn, 1995; Stewart). This decreased involvement in their child(ren)'s lives by divorced fathers may be the result of constraints experienced by fathers following divorce. Cohen (1998) found that nonresident fathers' involvement in their child(ren)'s lives is subject to an array of constraints, resulting in decreased participation. He reported that "the role of fathering must be squeezed into short meetings under strained and artificial circumstances" (p. 200). If a father chooses to avoid these situations by not seeing his child(ren), the father likely forfeits leisure time with the child(ren).

Although nonresident fathers experience an array of constraints when trying to spend parenting time with their child(ren) (Cohen), they may also experience facilitators to parenting time that may enhance or encourage time spent together. Examples of facilitators to nonresident father's ability to spend time together with their child(ren) include two bills passed in congress during 1999. The first, the Fathers Count Act of 1999 (H.R. bill 3073, 1999) allocated a total of $35,000,000 to improve fathering programs working with nonresident fathers and other cohorts of fathers. The second bill, Responsible Fatherhood Act (S. bill 1364, 1999) proposed dividing $25,000,000 into support programs aimed at strengthening fragile families. Divorced, nonresident fathers are included in this section of the bill. These programs aim to facilitate parenting time among nonresident fathers by educating fathers about the importance of spending quality time with their child(ren).

By examining facilitators to nonresident fathers' parenting time, researchers can belier understand what variables, such as increased income or living in a closer proximity to their children, may possibly increase fathers' time with their children. …

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