Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tracey Phillips


The purpose of this study was to explore current African American fathers' experiences with being fathered, and to understand how those definitions, perceptions, and experiences of fatherhood impacted their involvement in the lives of their own children. In-depth individual interviews were conducted in Detroit, Michigan with 10 African American fathers ranging in age from 22 to 25. Ecological systems theory and identity theory served as the theoretical framework for the study. Member checking, detailed descriptions, and audit trails were used to establish trustworthiness of the data. The findings of the study showed that father involvement was directly related to or affected by being fathered. The participants' desires or abilities to be active and involved fathers with their own children were not contingent on whether their own fathers were active in their lives. The participants expressed specific ideas about what being a father means to them, the importance of the role, how they enact the role, and the impact of their role on their children. Drawing on their own experiences, both positive and negative, participants expressed an unwavering level of commitment to their role and children. The themes that emerged from the interviews included: presence, responsibility, fatherhood as a priority, acceptance, and reciprocal relationships. The participants did not equate being a father with providing financial support, but placed significant emphasis on meeting the emotional and psychological needs of their children. The need for continued exploration of father involvement among young African American fathers is necessary in order for the development of comprehensive, research-based programs to provide support for and benefit to both fathers and their children.