A qualitative study of the meaning of fatherhood among young urban fathers

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Pediatrics; Department of Family Medicine and Community Health; Center for Health Policy and Research



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Adolescent; Adult; Data Collection; *Father-Child Relations; *Fathers; Female; *Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice; Humans; Male; Massachusetts; Pregnancy; *Pregnancy in Adolescence; Qualitative Research; Questionnaires; *Urban Population; Young Adult




OBJECTIVE: To explore the beliefs, attitudes, and needs young men have regarding their role as a father.

DESIGN AND SAMPLE: Exploratory, descriptive, qualitative design. Young fathers/young expectant fathers were recruited from service sites within a city in Massachusetts. Men were considered young fathers/young expectant fathers if they were or would be <20 years old at the birth of a first child or the mother of their baby was or would be><20 years old at the>baby's birth and the young man was <25 years old.

MEASURES: Participants were interviewed utilizing open-ended>questions, which included the following: the characteristics of good fathers, goals/needs for self and child, and whether or not they planned to raise the child as their father raised them and why.

RESULTS: Responses regarding fathering clustered into the following themes: being available; providing support; and self-improvement, including completing education and becoming a positive role model. Forty-seven percent believed that being employed or finishing school would help them be better fathers; 77% reported they would not raise their child as their own father had raised them, citing physical and/or emotional abuse/abandonment.

CONCLUSIONS: Young men in this study identified several challenges to being "good" fathers. These included lack of employment, education, and positive role models.

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Citation: Public Health Nurs. 2010 May-Jun;27(3):221-31. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed

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