The historical undervaluation of fathers in a child's life is evident compared to the importance placed on the mother-child relationship. Fathers are often considered less significant and typically engage as gender role models at a later stage. They have traditionally been viewed as distant and strict providers for the family, focusing on instilling fear and obedience in their children. In contrast to mothers who are expected to form emotional connections with their children, fathers have not received comparable recognition.
The societal stereotypes surrounding masculinity and chivalry complicate a male parent's ability to display nurturing qualities, love, and feminine traits often associated with a female parent. However, in the 21st century where both parents commonly work outside of the home, the role of a male parent has evolved. Both parents now share parenting responsibilities due to the rise of dual-earner househo...
lds. Additionally, single-parent and homosexual households have introduced new perspectives on parenting. The purpose of this research paper is to challenge prevailing beliefs about male parenting and provide insight into the genuine characteristics of a male parent and their role throughout their child's life. To achieve this objective, detailed interviews will be conducted with young adults who will share their past experiences with their male parents at different stages of life and how these interactions influenced their overall development.
The main goal of this research survey is to examine how young adults perceive their fathers and gain insights into the needs of children at different stages of life. This is especially important because there have been limited studies on father-child relationships, particularly in India where urbanization is changing family dynamics. The results from this survey will help professional
better understand what children require from their fathers and provide support for various types of fathers including soon-to-be fathers, struggling parents, new parents, single parents, primary caregivers, or those going through separation/divorce with children. Furthermore, it will also reveal unmet needs among children whose fathers have been absent at different times. The objective of this research is to address several questions such as: Is the father's role as vital as the mother's in an individual's life? Are individuals equally confident in a father's parenting abilities? What are the diverse roles/functions that fathers fulfill during different stages of life? How does a young adult's perception get influenced by their father's current presence or absence? In this context, "absence" refers to situations where male parents have passed away, left the household, or are separated from the female parent.According to Freudian psychoanalytical theory, boys perceive their fathers as a source of fear and this leads them to identify with their fathers. James E. Lieberman (1991) points out that Oedipus killed his biological father not out of jealousy but due to an unintentional burst of anger. It is worth noting that Oedipus was unaware that Laius was his biological father at the time of the incident.
The author, Lieberman, discusses the love that Oedipus had for his adoptive father Polybus. This love caused Oedipus to leave his home out of fear that he would harm Polybus and marry his own mother. At the time, Oedipus was unaware that he was adopted by both Polybus and his mother. Lieberman's article emphasizes that a father plays a significant role beyond simply being a biological parent or sperm donor. Additionally, another research study
from a psychoanalytical perspective highlights the importance of the father's role in castration and how identifying with him as a gender role model can contribute to healthy development of boys' sexual orientation later in life (Paulo R.).
In a 2003 survey by Ceccarelli and Belo Horizonte, it is explained that the absence of a male parent figure who demands respect from the boy and provides a secure base for him to express his oedipal desires by setting boundaries can result in the development of a longing for the father's protection. This longing then transforms the father into a symbolic figure and leads the boy to project his need for a father onto his sexual partners, often defining his sexual preferences (as seen in the cases described in the survey, where sons had homosexual orientations). Even Freud acknowledged the strong need for a father's protection in childhood, stating, "I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father's protection" (Sigmund Freud, 1:72).
In his book 'The Father: Historical, Psychological, and Cultural Perspectives', Zoja (2001) discusses how a father's attempt to establish himself as a nurturing figure for his clients forms the foundation of his role. However, from a Jungian analytical perspective, Zoja points out that a father is unable to fully embody fatherhood due to his inability to embrace his feminine essence. This leads him to constantly project his own inadequacy onto his partner, as he struggles to reconcile being both a father and merely a sperm donor. On the other hand, Zoja explains that during a child's preteen years, a single mother can assume both the roles of mother and father
by harmonizing her responsibilities as caregiver and lover. Yet, as group dynamics and gender identity develop in adolescence, there arises a need for an actual male father figure. This need becomes apparent through the formation of teenage "gangs" with primitive and regressive masculine psychology; these gangs unconsciously challenge the role of the father similar to how animal packs establish hierarchy among males. In her paper on familial relationships, Lisa Miller (2004) explores the manifestation of the Oedipus complex. She presents her first case study where a mother projected her unresolved Oedipus complex and longing for her own father onto her daughter and husband, which hindered their bond as father and daughter.From a psychoanalytical perspective, the role of the father is not only crucial in a child's biological development but also in their psychological well-being.
According to Jeremy Adam Smith (2009) in The Daddy Shift, there has been an increase in fathers' involvement in childcare activities in the past decade. While mothers still have greater involvement, this shift signifies a significant change in family dynamics. Smith argues that this transformation does not diminish fathers' masculinity and power but actually enables them to form stronger bonds with their children beyond their traditional role as providers. In the past, both parents equally shared caregiving responsibilities, but industrialization and the rise of patriarchal societies resulted in mothers and fathers assuming stereotypical roles. Nevertheless, with more women joining the workforce during the 20th century, fathers can now actively engage in their children's lives while receiving financial support from their partners.
The significance of a father's role in a child's life from birth is emphasized by the author of the book, without diminishing
the mother's central position. Instead, the father provides responsible and nurturing care that may have been lacking before women gained emancipation. Trevena Moore and Milton Kotelchuck (2004) support this notion and advocate for urban fathers to be involved in their child's healthcare for better overall development. Additionally, Pruett (2010) discusses how fathers play a primary nurturing role during early development while the mother remains close and continues breastfeeding even after returning to work. This establishes trust and comfort with both male and female figures now and in the future.
Pruett (2000) emphasizes the importance of both mother and father attention for a child's development in his book 'Fatherneed: Why Father attention is every bit indispensable as Mother attention for Your Child?' He explains that toddlers interact differently with their male and female parents. They seek comfort from their female parents, while seeking interaction and encouragement from their male parents. This helps them develop greater self-strength and tolerance for defeat as they grow into adults. Pruett's research also highlights that children who have active involvement with their fathers from birth through adolescence show greater emotional balance, curiosity, and self-confidence. Similarly, Gretchen S. Lovas (2005) supports the idea that some fathers provide high levels of Emotional Availability to their young children, similar to mothers. Improving the relationship between fathers and their children would contribute to the holistic development of the child, as fathers offer different skills, resources, and experiences compared to mothers in terms of child-rearing responsibilities.According to James R. Barclay (1980), the role of a father figure in a teenage boy's values development can be described as the following: the masculine function model, the communicator (listening to
various perspectives and providing problem-solving approaches), the moral model (striving to strike a balance between absolutism and relativism), and the imperfect reinforcing agent.
A study conducted by Sipsma, Biello, Cole-Lewis, and Kershaw (2010) revealed that boys with adolescent male parents are 1.8 times more likely to become adolescent male parents themselves compared to boys with older male parents. This is because these boys lack a proper male role model in their early years as their own fathers have not matured enough to provide them with the strong security typically associated with a father figure. Similarly, Jones, Kramer, Armitage, and Williams (2003) discovered that the quality of relationships between fathers and sons (and mothers and sons) has a negative correlation with psychological separation – higher-quality relationships result in less psychological separation. Furthermore, teenage boys who have non-resident fathers but maintain regular contact experience less psychological separation and establish healthier boundaries overall. Therefore, it is crucial for fathers to be involved in their child's adolescence, particularly when it comes to sons. This involvement helps provide better gender roles and serves as a deterrent against maladaptive behaviors such as engaging in early sexual relations, delinquency, and substance abuse. As children transition into adulthood, their parents become more concerned about each other according to a study conducted by E.
The level of concern regarding parents' declining health is influenced by the emotional bond between adult children and their parents, as revealed in a study conducted by L. Hay, K. L. Fingerman, and E. S. Lefkowitz (2007).
The child's development is profoundly impacted by the death of their father, affecting their ability to let go of the image they have of him and
causing difficulties in future relationships. Natasha Tarpley's personal account in 1994 vividly illustrates the emotional trauma a child experiences when losing a close father figure, emphasizing the irreplaceable void that remains throughout their upbringing. This literature review establishes that fathers have a role beyond being an outsider in the mother-child relationship or solely providing for the family; they play a crucial part in their child's life. The father's presence or absence, both physically and emotionally, significantly influences the child as they grow into adulthood. Therefore, it is important to consider the father's role from the perspective of each individual child since he fulfills unique needs defined by them.
RESEARCH PARADIGM & A ; THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK
The study's research paradigm is phenomenological, concentrating on the subjective experiences of individuals aged 18-25 and how their fathers impact these experiences. The theoretical framework employed is that of a social constructionist, which acknowledges the presence of numerous realities and constructs theories through analyzing subjective depictions of the world. This framework recognizes that people's perceptions of the world may vary and can be altered by exploring the phenomenon.
RESEARCH METHOD/ DESIGN
The researchers used a purposive and structured sampling method to select the sample group. The sample group included young adults aged between 20-25 years who have at least one living parent. This means that individuals who have been orphaned throughout their lives and those whose both parents passed away at an early age were not included in the survey.
Data Collection and Analysis
The data collection process will be conducted in two stages: Phase I will involve
selecting young adults aged 20-25 years for in-depth interviews about their experiences at different life stages and the impact of their fathers on these experiences.
The study begins by gathering demographic information from the population and intentionally selecting participants based on specific criteria. These chosen young adults then go through extensive unstructured interviews, where their subjective life histories are examined to identify common themes. After identifying the themes, data collection progresses to the second phase.
In Phase II, a focus group approach is employed to further analyze the themes discovered in the in-depth interviews. Participants receive information about the study beforehand and provide their demographic details. They are given detailed explanations about the purpose of the study and reassured that any personal information shared will be kept confidential and not disclosed without consent.
Prior to conducting focus group discussions, participants will be asked to provide their consent in order to prevent any feelings of being uninformed. If a participant becomes overwhelmed during the discussion and is unable to cope, they can choose to withdraw from the study. Consent will be documented in writing. Participants have the right to review the study's findings and can file a complaint if confidentiality is breached. Data collection will involve both written field notes and recorded narratives on tape for possible future examination.
The information would be collected using unstructured open-ended interviews. These interviews would primarily focus on the participant's relationship with their male parent and their experiences with them throughout different stages of life. The goal is to understand how these experiences have shaped the participant's current self. To ensure a structured research process, each part of the procedure will have a designated
time limit and daily activities will be recorded. At the end of the allotted time for a specific task, the daily notes related to it will be summarized to determine if further attention or changes are needed.
The collected information would be subjected to content analysis to categorize the subjective experiences and make decisions based on various attachment and family theories to provide the best explanation for the phenomenon in general. To validate the findings of this study, a communicative validity can be achieved by discussing it with experts in the field, such as professionals working with families and father-child couples or researchers who have studied the same phenomenon, as well as the general population which includes fathers, mothers, and children of all age groups.
Since the research is phenomenological in nature and aims to deeply analyze the subjective content of life narratives, it will take a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 8 months to complete.
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