The structure of the relationship between fathers and their gifted daughters that is supportive of giftedness: a grounded theory

Blanchfield, Sylvia
Major Professor
Sedahlia Jasper Crase
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

When seeking answers to the question "Why are there so few eminent women?" Silverman (1995) addressed the inner experiences of gifted children suggesting that the combination of their emotional intensity and cognitive complexity renders them vulnerable to underachievement. She proposed that the emotional component of giftedness is more inclusive of the female experience and that this vulnerability implies the need for modifications in parenting in order for gifted girls to develop optimally.;Researchers have investigated relationships between parents and gifted children, between fathers and sons, between mothers and daughters; but no research has been conducted investigating the structure of the relationship between a father and his gifted daughter that is supportive of her giftedness. Thus the current research utilized a qualitative methodology to develop a grounded theory of father support of giftedness in order to: (a) discover what the modifications in fathering gifted girls might be that would facilitate gifted girls' optimal development; and (b) identify what processes account for success without deriving hypotheses from the literature and then experimenting on them.;This research investigated personal constructs of father support of giftedness from an intergenerational perspective in eight intact families with gifted daughters who had completed their first or second year of college. Data from three 90-minute in-depth interviews with each father and each daughter, and one 90-minute interview with each mother resulted in over 2,000 pages of cleaned data which were coded and analyzed. A theoretical model of father support of giftedness emerged from the data which expressed (a) intervening conditions influencing support, (b) causal conditions fostering support, (c) phenomenon of father support, (d) context fostering support, (e) context within which support is perceived, (f) action/interaction strategies, and (g) consequences of support. Subcategories for each category of the model were identified.;Findings from this qualitative research implied that in these families, the supportive relationship between a gifted girl and her father was basic to her optimal development. Findings in these families indicated that, where fathers held high expectations of their daughters and provided encouragement, advocacy, and guidance, their daughters demonstrated perseverance, and persistence, with a sense of equanimity.