Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This study sought to ascertain how fathers who are primary caregivers understand their roles as fathers and caregivers. This qualitative, exploratory study aimed to expand the body of knowledge on primary caregiving fathers, which has, to date, largely focused on outcomes-based research. Heterosexual, married men with children under five years of age, who had been primary caregivers for at least six months, were recruited from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York. Twelve primary caregiving fathers participated in this study. Questions focused on such topics as: 1) the decision-making process; 2) what the participants understood their roles as fathers and primary caregivers to be; 3) if being a primary caregiver was consistent with their sense of masculinity; and 4) societal and familial responses to the participants as primary caregiving fathers. Fathers understood their role to be multifaceted, including such roles as role model, teacher, disciplinarian and nurturer. Participants mostly reported that being a primary caregiver fit with their sense of masculinity. Participants noted responses of surprise and support from society and family. Suggestions for further research were made to broaden and expand the literature on families who choose the father to be the primary caregiver.


102 p. Thesis (M.S.W)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaf 96).