Date of Award

8-2004

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Charles L. Thompson

Committee Members

Elaine Seat, Gary Klukken, Priscilla Blanton, William A. Poppen

Abstract

This study describes the subjective experience of being an involved midlife father with adult children. While previous fatherhood research has focused primarily on the impact of father involvement on child outcomes, researchers have only recently begun to explore the impact of father involvement on the fathers themselves. Within this literature minimal research is evident regarding the impact of fatherhood on men at midlife. This study addresses this gap in the literature with a phenomenological investigation of the experience of father involvement for midlife fathers of adult children. The researcher conducted in-depth interviews with 9 midlife fathers regarding their experience of father involvement. The transcribed interviews were analyzed using the Colaizzi (1978) method of empirical-phenomenological analysis. Through individual and group analysis of the participant descriptions the investigator generated a thematic description of the experience of involved fatherhood at midlife. This description was comprised of three themes; Accommodation: Continuity/ Change, Validation: Satisfaction/ Loss, and Generativity: Legacy/ Despair. These themes emerged from a ground of Relational Comparison including relationships with children when younger, with own father, with other fathers, and with spouse. The findings generally confirmed the continued significance of father involvement for these men at midlife suggesting that fatherhood continued to play a central role in their lives, provided a primary source of life satisfaction, and constituted one of their most valued contributions.

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