Date of Conferral



Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)




Susana Verdinelli


AbstractIndividuals who have recently become first-time parents can find the experience to be both rewarding and challenging. While research has mainly focused on the challenging experiences of first-time mothers after giving birth, recent studies have begun to find that first-time fathers may have just as difficult a time adjusting to their new role. Most research studies conducted in this area have primarily focused on the experience of European American and Asian American first-time fathers and not specifically on African American fathers. Social exchange theory was used in this interpretive phenomenological analysis study to explore how first-time African American fathers handled transitioning into the role of parenthood. This study provided insight into first-time African American fathers’ emotional reactions, thoughts, and how they responded to their new experience. The data for this study were comprised of semi-structured interviews to 12 first-time, African American fathers. Data were analyzed using the principles of interpretative phenomenological analysis. Results from this study suggested that a variety of emotions, from joy to uncertainty, impacted participants after learning they were becoming fathers. They experienced a series of adjustments, stressors, and changes in their family roles; and they became more centered, mature, and involved. The findings of this study have the potential for positive social change by providing mental health providers with useful information to develop culturally sensitive psychoeducational and treatment programs for first-time African American fathers on adjusting and transitioning to their new role.