Identifying New and Expectant Fathers' Supports and Challenges to Prevent Child Exposure to Domestic Violence
Method: Father and mother participants who had at least one child under the age of five took part in eight focus groups. Six focus groups were conducted with fathers (N=47) and two with mothers (N=8) at four different community organizations. All focus groups were recorded and transcribed verbatim, and then analyzed thematically by two coders using the systematic data analysis process for focus groups (Krueger & Casey, 2009) and a constant comparative framework (Miles & Huberman, 1994) to develop matrices to identify themes in the data.
Results: Analysis of focus group data produced information about the form and content of support that men would like to receive as well as barriers to receiving support during the early stages of pregnancy and their child’s life. The supports that fathers found most useful included: (a) informal familial support that was both proximal and emotionally centered, (b) encouraging and advice oriented support from other fathers in both formal group settings and informal interpersonal relationships, and (c) formal programmatic support whose content was both welcoming to men and father-centered. The prominent barriers to support for fathers that emerged were maternal and societal gatekeeping that inhibited opportunities to parent, and limited availability of and/or access to formal supports with father specific programming. Socioeconomic status, prior exposure to parenting support programming, and the nature of the relationship with a child’s mother were factors that influenced how participants experienced each barrier. Almost all of the fathers (96%) indicated they would participate in face to face support group with other fathers, while (63%) would participate in online group.
Conclusions & Implications: This study illustrates the complex way in which supports and challenges during the transition to fatherhood are experienced by different fathers, depending on employment, social location, and co-habitation with mother and therefore their infant. Social workers increased awareness of how fathers may differently experience the transition to fatherhood can lead to developing more tailored, father friendly practice models and systems. In addition, by focusing on engaging new and expectant fathers, social work advances the primary prevention of CEDV.