Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Lisbeth Pike

Abstract

It has been extensively documented that contact fathers decrease involvement with their children after divorce (Amato & Booth, 1996). Role theory purports that this pattern of father involvement after divorce is a result or contact fathers experiencing parental role ambiguity. The constraints of visitation make it difficult to maintain parental roles previously performed in the marriage (Ihinger-Tallman, Pasley & Buchler, 1993). American research has provided support for role theory: however no known equivalent research has been conducted on Australian contact fathers. This study replicated Minton and Pasley's (1996) research with 46 contact and 64 married fathers. Participants completed the Self-Perceptions of the Parental Role Scale (McPhee, Benson & Bullock, 1986) and The Parental Involvement Scale (Ahrons, 1983). The results did not support the hypothesis that contact fathers would identify less with the parental role, compared to married fathers. There was evidence that contact and married fathers perceived themselves to be equally satisfied, competent, integrated and invested in the parental role. As expected, contact fathers were found to be less involved in child-related activities than married fathers. There was modest support for the basic proposition of role theory that the more a father identified with the parental role the more involved he would be with his children. Results also indicated weak, significant correlation between investment, satisfaction and competence in the parental role and involvement. Satisfaction and competence in the parental role were significant predictors of father involvement, however they accounted for little variance in father involvement. Marital status did not moderate the relationship between father parenting role identity and father involvement. Future research endeavours are suggested that explore how contact fathers maintain high identification with the parental role after divorce.

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