Exploration of Factors Affecting Single Black Mothers' Facilitation of Father-Child Relationships
Gardner, Shawn L.
AdvisorDenny, Marina D.
CommitteeHardman, Alisha M.
Peterson, Donna J.
Literature shows that when fathers are involved in their children’s lives, their children have better outcomes and neighborhoods are safer. However, father involvement is often limited in situations where the father is a non-residential parent. Previous research has indicated that there are several factors that may influence a custodial mother’s facilitation of the father-child relationship. These factors may include the existing co-parenting relationship between mother and father and the mother’s perception of the father’s appreciation of her mothering of the child. Particularly in low-income families, the struggle to simply meet economic demands overrides a custodial parent’s desire to facilitate the relationship. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the perspective of single, never-married, low-income, custodial Black mothers related to their facilitation of the father-child relationship when the father does not reside in the home with the mother and child. The Theory of Planned Behavior (Ajzen, 1991) was employed as the conceptual framework of this study. This theory is used to help understand how a mother’s intent to facilitate the father-child relationship is partly influenced by her capacity to do so. Using purposive sampling, I interviewed 10 participants who identified as Black mothers with children between the ages of 5 and 11 whose father identified as Black and did not reside in the home. The participants also all self-reported as low-income. A constructivist perspective was employed during data collection and analysis, which allowed the participants’ perceptions to be heard individually and collectively. Four themes emerged through the coding and analysis of the interview transcripts. The first was that mothers felt that their efforts to facilitate the father-child relationship went unappreciated. The second theme was that mothers perceived that fathers were not taking responsibility for their lives and helping themselves. The third theme was that mothers had an expiration of time with which to work with the fathers. When they felt their effort to facilitate the father-child relationship was not increasing the father’s involvement, the mothers halted their efforts altogether. The fourth theme was that mothers drew upon a variety of support sources beyond working with the father. The findings of this descriptive study can be used to influence the development of co-parenting curricula, to improve family-court mediation, and to support healthy relationships among unwed and fragile families.