His-stories: Young, non-residential, African American fathers participating in a responsible fatherhood program: A hermeneutic inquirey

Childs, Gregory
Major Professor
Robert H Bosselman
Steven B Garasky
Committee Member
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Human Development and Family Studies

Childs, Suni Gregory. Ph.D., Iowa State University, May 2012. His-stories: Young, non-residential, African American fathers participating in a responsible fatherhood program: A hermeneutic inquiry. Major Professors: Robert H. Bosselman and Steve B. Garasky.

In America, 26 percent of all children live within a single parent household that is headed by a female. Of that number, two-thirds of African American children are now born into single-mother households. The purpose of this Phenomenological (Hermeneutic) study was to conduct in-depth hermeneutical interviews with a selected group of young African American fathers, who have or are currently participating in one of two Responsible Fatherhood Programs within the western New York area. They were: 1. *Great Starts (Only For Fathers Program) and, 2. *Positive, Outcomes, for Parents, who are Self-Sufficient, or P.O.P.S.. The P.O.P.S. program receives funding from the targeted area's Department of Social Services and Great Starts receives funding from New York State Office of Children and Family Services. The goal of this research was to conduct a chronology of their life-world experiences which included exploring, their "past", "present", and "future" life-changing circumstances as a result of participating within a Responsible Fatherhood Program. This was achieved by using individual interviews to uncover common lived-world experiences of these young African American fathers' lives, as it related to their future life-circumstances, post-program, and in their own voice. Results uncovered five common "lived-world "experiences or themes: (a) Fatherlessness: Mama Knows Best; (b) My Babymama: Inter-parental conflict; (c) Making It: Self-Efficacy; (d) Help Wanted: underemployment/ unemployment; and, (e) Wanting To Be a Good Father: The provider/role model.

For the practitioner and professional within the field of Family and Consumer Science working with fathers, this research might provide a new lens by which to deliver services to young fathers. For example, they could advocate for co-parenting classes as a graduation requirement and part of custody arrangement within the family court system. Moreover, the practitioner can promote father friendly services and educate the public on the impact fathers have on the well-being of children.

* Pseudonyms were used for each program