Date of Award

6-1998

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Karen Blaisure

Second Advisor

Dr. Alan J. Hovestadt

Third Advisor

Dr. Margie J. Geasler

Abstract

This study explores the influence of Promise Keepers (PK) on fathers’ involvement with their children. The large numbers o f men involved with PK and the anecdotal success of fathers and their families have created considerable dialogue in the popular press. However, there have been no empirical studies to date that contribute data about the influence of PK on father involvement.

The conceptual framework informing this study combined father involvement and postmodern feminist perspectives. A father involvement perspective emphasizes fathers’ presence, their capability and strengths, the moral dimension to fathers’ responsibility for their children, and factors that establish responsible fathering. A postmodern feminist perspective emphasizes the multiple and varied experiences of women, a changing family ideology, and the gendered experiences of family life.

Qualitative interviewing was the main method of data collection. Joint and individual semistructured interviews were conducted with 18 couples. Criteria for inclusion in the study included men who had attended a day-and-a-half PK conference, couples in a heterosexual marriage, parents of at least one child 10 years old or younger, and agreement to participate in one individual interview and one couple interview. The 36 participants (18 couples) were Caucasian and ranged from working to upper-middle class. They ranged in age from 33 to 43 years old. Length of marriage ranged from 3 to 21 years.

When describing what led to attending a PK conference, the men in this study identified experiencing a dissatisfaction with their lives and an emotional distance from their families. They hoped that PK would address their dissatisfaction and loneliness by guiding them as fathers and offering opportunities to form friendships with other men. PK appeared trustworthy to the participants in this study because of its Christian foundation.

As a result of participating in PK conferences and accountability groups, the men in this study increased their communication and time spent with their children and sought to intentionally develop relationships with their children. All of the participants expressed satisfaction with this change in fathers’ involvement with their children; however, changes in a traditional ideology of family life did not accompany the fathers’ increased involvement in the lives of their children.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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