Black fathers parenting after divorce, during separation, cohabitation, or in nonmarital relationships: A mixed method study

Date

2010-12

Authors

Purge, Deborah

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore how Black fathers parent after divorce, during separation, cohabitation, or while in nonmarital relationships, and what factors hindered or supported positive fathering experiences. Furthermore, this researcher wanted to clarify the roles of Black fathers who are divorced, separated, cohabitating, or in nonmarital relationships, and to identify the needs (such as community support, employment, etc.) that have to be met to enable positive fathering experiences. In addition, this online study investigated the perceived stress and social support experienced by Black fathers as they report on their experience of being fathers — both within and outside of their child's home. The research questions guiding the quantitative and qualitative research were: 1. What are Black fathers' perceptions of their parenting stress? 2. What factors influence the parenting stress of Black fathers? 3. How do Black fathers perceive their parenting and the challenges that impact their parenting?

This descriptive study utilized a mixed-method design which allowed the researcher to quantify the stressors faced by Black fathers, and at the same time qualitatively obtained a rich description of the lived experiences of these fathers. This study included an on-line survey where participants completed the Parenting Stress Index (PSI) (3rd ed.) for parents of children ages 1 to 11 years old, the Stress Index for Parents of Adolescents (SIPA) for parents of children ages 12 to 18 years old, and six open-ended qualitative questions. Forty-one fathers responded to the qualitative questionnaire, and 30 men completed all of the PSI and the SIPA protocols.

In this study, the majority of Black fathers report that they are strong and resilient and are very involved in the rearing and nurturing of their children. This research also found that despite having to deal with a variety of stressful life transitions issues (such as divorce, separation, unemployment, etc.) some fathers did not perceive themselves as having high level of stress based on their scores on the PSI and SIPA. These findings describe the hardiness and strength of the Black fathers in their ability to rebound and adapt. Research shows that many Black fathers will usually elicit the help of family members, kinship families or social support in quest to better parent and provide for their children. Fathers identified relational, cultural, personal, and institutional obstacles, that hindered their parenting. Most of the fathers in this research wanted services that will help them to better understand their rights as fathers and support systems that will enable them to be a better parent to their children.

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Keywords

Counseling psychology, Clinical psychology, Individual & family studies, Social sciences, Black children, Black families, Father's stress, Parenting stress

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