Date of Award

2005

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

Abstract

In western culture, the majority of fathers become the non-residential parent after separation and it is reported many disengage from their children as time goes on. This review will elucidate the effects of separation on the father role. Within this body of literature there are two dominant ideologies pertaining to fathers – father absence and father importance. The findings from research support that the quality of contact rather than quantity of contact is important for close bonds between non-residential fathers and their children. There are a number of factors that can help or hinder this relationship which are intrinsically linked to their level of parental satisfaction and their ability to engage in authoritative parenting. The father construct is shaped by world events, social and political movements. Contemporary fatherhood, pertinent to non-residential fathers, is still in a period of transition. Although this area of study is gaining momentum the diversity and complexity of modern family structures necessitates ongoing research to uncover subtle changes in behaviour and attitudes. This research used a positive psychology approach to explore the subjective experiences of nine non-residential fathers (NRFs) who maintain a committed relationship with their children. The NRFs' mean age was 42.1 years, with a mean of 2.2 children per family and a mean separation time of three years. Although some NRFs become dislocated from their children post-separation other NRFs actively pursue more contact and develop stronger bonds with their children. This study explored the NRFs' perceptions of their father role and what makes them different from NRFs who disengage from their children post-separation. These NRFs are authoritative parents and provide further evidence that fathers are equally capable of nurturing children. The post-separation parenting of these NRFs' challenges traditional gender roles that espouse the importance of the maternal bond.

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