Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Perceived Father Roles of Married African American Men: A Phenomenological Study

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Perceived Father Roles of Married African American Men: A Phenomenological Study

Article excerpt

Over the last several decades, research has sought to understand father-child relationships, father influence on child developmental outcomes, and father influence on the family well-being. Specifically, research has shown the importance of father involvement in children's educational attainment (Flouri & Buchanan, 2004; McBride, Schoppe-Sullivan, & Ho, 2005), fewer behavior issues (Flouri & Buchanan, 2003), economic stability of the family, influencing juvenile delinquent behaviors (Coley & Medeiros, 2007), and child development (Lamb, 2004). Positive father involvement has been correlated with secure attachment, regulation of negative feelings, positive self-esteem during adolescence, and higher academic achievement (Carlson & McLanahan, 2010; Doherty, Kouneski, & Erickson, 1998; Roy, Buckmiller, & McDowell, 2008). Although scholarship in the area is still emerging, much of the research represented a limited view of the fatherhood experience.

Toth and Xu (1999) suggested that current empirical data provided limited information about the racial and cultural variations of fatherhood. Moreover, the depictions of ethnic minority fathers tended to be stereotypical, portrays White fathers as more competent fathers compared to non-White fathers, and yielded inconsistent findings regarding cultural and racial differences (Toth & Xu, 1999) and father involvement. Generally speaking, the literature on African American fathers within intact families was limited (Cazenave, 1979, Cochran, 1997). Furthermore, there was limited scholarship characterizing African American fathers' roles perceptions. Prior to the mid-1980's, some of literature exploring the contributions of African American or Black fathers to the family systems had been situated in a deficit model highlighting limited aspects of fathering and Black family experience as well as minimizing and misrepresenting the role of the Black father (Bryan & Ajo, 1992; Cazenave, 1979; McAdoo, 1988, 1993). Moreover, the literature relied on White middle class families as a reference point for the Black experience (Bryan & Ajo, 1992) which showed a cultural discrepancy in representing African American fathers in a more accurate picture.

Conceptualizing the role of fathers and father involvement was an ongoing process. Research suggested that the role of father was socially constructed (Doherty et al., 1998; LaRossa, 1988; Pleck & Pleck, 1997) and constantly redefined and re-envisioned (Olmstead, Futris, & Pasley, 2009). It follows then that notions related to the role of fathers were impacted by various social and contextual factors. Although the literature outlines various characterizations of the father role, the role particularly for African American fathers is varied and multidimensional (McAdoo & McAdoo, 1994). While the literature offers a more diverse representation of the fatherhood experience (Ahmeduzzaman & Roopnarine 1992; Cochran, 1997; Fagan, 1998; McAdoo, 1988), current research often examined fathering experiences through the lens of unmarried, non-residential fathers or through accounts told by mothers (Allen & Hawkins, 1999; De Luccie, 1995; Fagan & Barnett, 2003). Marriage rates in the African American community are lower compared to other racial groups, there were examples of African American fathers who were married, physically present, and actively engaged in their families. Some literature indicated that African American fathers actively participate in child-rearing and other fathering duties within a nuclear family setting (Billingsley, 1992; Cochran, 1997; McAdoo, 1993). For example, studies indicated that married African American fathers engage in child-rearing activities such as changing diapers, actively participating in child care, and engaging in activities with their children (Ahmeduzzaman, & Roopnarine, 1992; Cazenave, 1979). Additionally studies suggested that African American men were more equalitarian in their views about the division of household labor and child care responsibilities (McAdoo & McAdoo, 1994). …

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