Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study explored how single fathers who had shared or sole physical custody of their children from a young age, thought and felt about their experience of nurturing. This qualitative, exploratory study aimed to broaden the knowledge of single fathers in this role, which has been largely unexplored. Heterosexual and gay fathers with shared or sole physical custody of their children from the age of four or under were recruited from New York and Massachusetts. Ten fathers participated in this study. Questions were grouped around topics such as: 1) the participants' experience of being parented; 2) the experience of being a new parent; 3)the experience of becoming a single father; 4) ongoing conflicts experienced as single fathers; 5) adaptive measures taken to carry out the parenting role as a single father, and; 6) the participants' intra-psychic integration of their nurturing role. Participants' narratives indicated that these fathers experienced little agency in the decision to become fathers and little intentional preparation for fathering, yet found deep satisfaction in their relationships with their children and a great deal of affective engagement and reflective capacity as parents. While the constraints of hegemonic masculinity caused internal conflict, it did not prevent these fathers from including feminine-associated elements in their fathering identities. Suggestions for further research were made to expand the literature on single fathers with shared or sole custody.


Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2008. v, 84 p. Includes bibliographical references (p. 75-79)