The purpose of this grounded theory study is to develop a theoretical understanding of successful father involvement for low-income African American fathers of children with different mothers. Successful father involvement is defined as frequent in-person or telephone contact, but not less than once a month. About one- fourth to one-third of African American men fathered children with two or more mothers, a rate double that of the general population. Existing policies, such as Healthy Marriage Promotion and Responsible Fatherhood and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Fatherhood, Marriage and Families Innovation, and the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, are designed to promote the involvement of nonresidential fathers and to develop two- parent families but fail to address the challenges and complexity of father involvement in families of men who father children with different mothers. These fathers face challenges of having less involvement with their children than men who have children with a single mother and parenting across multiple households. Type and amount of father involvement may differ across siblings and may have long term consequences for child outcomes and sibling relationships. A more comprehensive understanding of successful father involvement will be gained by performing in-depth individual interviews from the multiple perspectives of 10-15 networks, the persons who shape his fatherhood role. At minimum, each network will include: the father, two of the mothers/ primary caregivers of his children and one person, designated by the father, as either negatively or positively influencing his paternal role. Whenever possible the romantic partners of the father and the mothers, the paternal and maternal grandparents and up to three persons who influence his father role will also be included. The end product will be a culturally-appropriate description that addresses the unique challenges facing low- income, African American fathers of children with different mothers and can improve father-involvement thus, enhancing positive child outcomes, informing practitioners of these fathers'need for greater time flexibility, and improving future research with these fathers. Future directions include identifying unique paternal contributions to child outcomes that can be utilized to better understand the fatherhood role of any racial/ethnic or economic group.
The specific aims of this study are to identify, for networks of low-income, African American fathers of children with different mothers: A theoretical explanation of successful father involvement;2. the network and contextual factors that promote or inhibit successful father involvement;and 3. differences in father involvement with each child that may contribute to differences in child outcomes.

Public Health Relevance

The purpose of this qualitative research study is to develop an explanation of successful father involvement for low-income African American fathers who have children with different mothers. We hope to understand more about how these fathers successfully maintain contact with their children and what types of things influence their ability to stay involved. We will interview 10-15 sets of father networks. Each network will include a father and persons who help shape his fatherhood role. The knowledge from this research study can improve father involvement for these families to enhance the well-being of their children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
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Bures, Regina M
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Schools of Nursing
United States
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