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“Give my baby everything I didn’t have”: a study of young men’s experiences of fatherhood

“Give my baby everything I didn’t have”: a study of young men’s experiences of fatherhood

Panades Blas, Rosa (2015) “Give my baby everything I didn’t have”: a study of young men’s experiences of fatherhood. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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The subject of young fatherhood has not been widely addressed in academic research, and until recently most studies on young parenthood have concentrated mainly on teenage mothers. This thesis explores how men who became fathers at a young age narrate their experiences of fathering and their perceptions of fatherhood. The focus is thus both on the practical experience of being a father as well as in the values the young men hold in relation to fatherhood and fathering. Such exploration is done in relation to being a man, being young and coming from what is typically considered a socially excluded background. The findings are based on individual qualitative interviews with 22 young men from ethnic minority backgrounds who were living in London, mainly in areas of social deprivation. This study adds to the growing body of research on young fatherhood generally and to research on the father-child relationship specifically.

Drawing on structuration theory, discourse and social capital as the theoretical basis, this thesis explores how young men build, practice and understand their role as fathers and their one to one relationship with their child or children. The specific focus on the father-child relationship springs from the limited research on this aspect of young fatherhood. This study found that when it comes the practice of fathering there are little differences between young and older fathers: their worries, their hopes and their future projections can be considered similar. The research highlighted that fathers aimed to make a positive contribution to their children’s lives by caring for them in the early days and also later on, by playing and educating them. The relationship with the mother appeared to be an essential part of the experience of fatherhood, both in relation to quality and quantity of contact. This thesis found that young men emphasised the influence of family and community background in shaping their experiences of fatherhood. The findings of this study shed light into the practice of fathering amongst young men and contribute to understanding young parents’ relationship dynamics from the male perspective. Finally, it helps understand the influence of background on young fathers’ life chances and future prospects.

Overall, the young men in this research were able to fulfill their desire to be there for their children, sometimes in adverse circumstances and against a variety of hurdles. And despite the problems encountered, the young men offered a positive view on the experience of fatherhood, focusing not only on the tensions but also on the rewards of being a father.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fatherhood; young fathers; fathering; father-child relationship;
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences
Faculty of Education, Health & Human Sciences > School of Health Sciences (HEA)
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2021 21:03

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