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The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore how fathering sons impacts men's relational growth and development. This qualitative study examines the meaning fathers make of their experience and describes their process of growth and development in connection with their sons. Twenty, mostly middle-class fathers, ages thirty-three to forty-six with sons ranging from one year to twelve years, were interviewed. Relational-Cultural Theory provides a theoretical framework. A grounded theory approach, a constructivist lens, and feminist analysis and research methods are employed. The data reveal that the fathers' connection with their sons and their perceptions of their sons' unconditional love provide a positive relational context for the fathers' growth and development. As a result, the fathers reconnect with their core relational selves, increase their relational competency, and revision themselves by reconstructing their fathering images and sense of self. This dissertation adds men's voices to parenting discourse. The research also reverses the traditional research lens that focuses on the child in the father/child parenting dyad. The research addresses the experiences of men as fathers from a Relational-Cultural Theory perspective. The project demonstrates that the men in this study are engaging in relational fathering where connection is conceived as central to their relationships with their sons.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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