Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert L. Betz

Second Advisor

Dr. Linwood H. Cousins

Third Advisor

Dr. Ruth A. Ervin


A quantitative research design was utilized to examine and understand the perceptions of fatherhood and manhood held by unmarried African American adolescent fathers. In face-to-face 60-90 minute interviews using a semistructured interview guide developed by the researcher, participants were asked open-ended questions to provide these young men with a voice and an opportunity to express their needs, support, neglect, understanding, and perception of how society views them and its impact on the functioning of the family unit. Using purposeful sampling, 10 unmarried African American adolescent fathers, located in the southwestern area of Michigan, were interviewed for data collection.

Interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. Transcripts were analyzed using the constant comparison (grounded theory) technique. Themes and patterns were identified, which could contribute to knowledge of unmarried African American adolescent fathers regarding the study.

Findings indicated the following: (a) unwed African American adolescent fathers are more involved than they are often given credit for; (b) given the same opportunities, resources, and support systems, paternal involvement may compete with that of maternal involvement; (c) the lack of knowledge and awareness of opportunities may influence the self-esteem and involvement of African American fathers; (d) how African American men evaluate themselves is often a result of how they have been evaluated; (e) environmental experiences with relationships and family may influence how young African American males regard parenting and marriage; (f) more influence for self-regard may be obtained from outside sources and experiences; (g) obstacles and barriers persist for men in general, and for African American males specifically, in terms of services and programs to assess and address their needs; (h) a healthy self-regard is influenced by the presence and involvement of a father or father figure in the lives of young black children in general, and young Black men specifically; (i) society continues to lag behind in terms of adequately identifying and addressing the needs of African American males.

The study concluded with discussions and recommendations on how to improve the quality and quantity of service delivery for men in general, young fathers primarily, and African American male fathers specifically.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access