Session: Fathering in the Face of Adversity (Society for Social Work and Research 26th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice)

33 Fathering in the Face of Adversity

Thursday, January 13, 2022: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Marquis BR Salon 13, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Inequality, Poverty, and Social Welfare Policy
Symposium Organizer:
Jaimie O'Gara, PhD, Clarke University
Cindy Sousa, PhD, MSW, MPH, Bryn Mawr College
In line with the SSWR Annual Conference theme, Social Work Science for Racial, Social, and Political Justice, this symposium presents three research studies that examine fathering in contexts of adversity. Highlighting multiple analytic methods with four different populations, this symposium presents research that furthers our understanding of how various racial, social, and political injustices, such as poverty and war, impact fathering. Indeed, the literature is replete with evidence demonstrating how father involvement impacts child and youth development. For example, models representing the processes by which fathers influence their children's behavioral, developmental, and psychosocial development continue to evolve (Cabrera et al., 2014). This symposium contributes to the growing body of literature that has examined fatherhood within adverse circumstances and is guided by an understanding that fathers' abilities to effectively parent their children is significantly threatened when faced with extreme adversities that upend and complicate their parenting. The research has established that children who experience adversity such as poverty, war, forced displacement, and disability are at heightened risk for negative behavioral and physical health outcomes (Arim et al., 2017; Slone & Mann, 2016; Varga & Gee, 2017). However, there is less exploration of the role that fathering in such contexts of adversity plays in impacting - either exacerbating or ameliorating - these outcomes. The findings presented in this symposium demonstrate how research on fathering can ultimately provide a roadmap to promoting positive social change for these families.

In the proposed symposium, we present four papers that cover a range of methodological approaches to study fathering in diverse and adverse contexts. Paper 1 used quantitative methods to examine the long-term impact of paternal economic hardship on father engagement, father-child closeness, and co-parenting with the mother, among a sample of racially/ethnically diverse non-resident fathers living in the United States. Paper 2 utilized a mixed-methods approach to investigate how Syrian fathers living in Lebanon protect their children in a context of forced migration and displacement. Paper 3 used qualitative methods to understand how the forced displacement has shifted the meaning of fatherhood for Syrian father refugees who have resettled in Canada. Paper 4 also used qualitative methods to explore how fathers emotionally connect to and thereby effectively parent their children who have neurodisabilities in Quebec. Collectively, these studies provide valuable information regarding how fathering is affected by various forms and levels of adversity, and in turn, how fathering may impact child and youth developmental outcomes. The implications for these research studies include an understanding that the impact of father involvement on child development is influenced by the social and physical environments in which a father parents. Thus, this symposium will address a need for future research on how father involvement, including fathering behaviors and thoughts and feelings about fathering, influence child psychosocial development. In this symposium we also discuss practice and policy implications, specifically the importance of understanding the conditions that support father involvement in the context of adversity across populations.

* noted as presenting author
The Application of a Model of Paternal Protection with Syrian Fathers Displaced in Lebanon
Bree Akesson, PhD, Wilfrid Laurier University; Ravi Gokani, Lakehead University
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