Bringing fathers into F.O.C.U.S.: The lived experiences of fathers who completed a community based fatherhood programs

Murray, Felicia Law
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The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of fathers who were formally involved in the public child welfare system and completed a community based fatherhood program. Using symbolic interactionism, identity theory, and the responsible fathering model as theoretical frameworks, the study explored the following issues: (1) fathers’ role perceptions; (2) fathers’ perceptions of factors that facilitated and/or hindered father involvement; and (3) fathers’ perceptions of the impact of the fatherhood program on the father-child relationship, role perceptions, and fathering behaviors. Ten semi-structured interviews were performed with participants who completed a fatherhood program conducted by a family services agency in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Data gathered from the interviews were transcribed verbatim and synthesized via first and second cycle coding. Holistic, initial, as well as emotion and values coding were used for first cycle coding. Focused coding was used for second cycle coding. Peer debriefing and member checks were used to ensure trustworthiness. vii Thick rich descriptions and verbatim texts were used to capture the essence of participants’ experiences. Three main themes emerged from the data: Physical and Emotional Presence, Challenges, and Adaptability. Physical and Emotional Presence referenced the role and impact of fathers’ physical presence in their children’s lives and their commitment to provide emotional support for their children. The discourse for the theme Challenges represented the myriad obstacles participants encountered which impacted father involvement. Lastly, Adaptability related to the fatherhood program impact on fathers’ role perceptions, the father-child relationship, and fathering behaviors. Study limitations, implications, and recommendations for future research are also presented.

Social sciences, Child protection, Father involvement, Fathers, Program evaluations