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The Social Complexities of Biological and Social Fathering in Afro-Jamaican Families

Fri, March 22, 7:45 to 9:15am, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Since the 1970s, there has been increased scholarly attention to fathers (Goldberg, Tan, & Thorsen, 2009). However, there is a dearth of research on ethnic fathers (Chuang & Tamis-LeMonda, 2013). Scholars conceptualized father involvement with a primary focus on behavioral involvement, leading to criticism that involvement should also include affective and cognitive domains (Palkovitz, 1997). Also, with limited attention to ethnic minority fathers, the conceptualization of fathering resulted in the stereotype and/or overgeneralization of ethnic and minority fathering, especially of Black fathers. This study is one of the first to explicitly investigate the complexities of biological and social fathering in Afro-Jamaican families, taking into consideration their unique bioecological contexts (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006).
Thematic analysis methodology based on semi-structured interviews was used to explore the perspectives of 24 Afro-Jamaican fathers. Thematic analysis was guided by the social constructionist and bioecological perspectives. Themes were identified deductively and inductively incorporating the step-by-step recommendations of several scholars (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Joffe, 2012) which were combined into eight sequential steps.
In their own experiences of being fathered and as fathers, these fathers constructed biological and social fathering in similar ways, generating four themes: (a) behavioral involvement, (b) affective involvement, (c) cognitive involvement, and (d) spiritual involvement. Regarding behavioral involvement, the fathers discussed 11 subthemes which were linked to biological and social fathering with the exception of leadership: (a) accessibility, (b) teaching and guiding, (c) taking care of needs, (d) showing interest, (e) communicating with children, (f) monitoring, (g) protecting, (h) child-related activities, (i) general engagement, (j) errands, and (k) leadership. In reflecting on the socialization of values when they when children and in their own role as fathers to their children, the values that they discussed mapped onto four themes: (a) collectivism, academic achievement, (b) individualistic characteristics, and (c) spirituality. The strategies employed in the socialization of values when fathers were children and in their own fathering included: (a) control, (b) guided learning, (c) group participation, (d) support, and (e) reciprocity. Reasons provided for the strategies used to promote values encompassed eight themes: (a) training, (b) enhancing interpersonal relationships, (c) developing personal characteristics, (d) facilitating accomplishments, (e) being trained spiritually (f), engaging in prosocial behaviours, (g) meeting societal expectations, and (h) ensuring personal safety.
The current study provides insights into fathering and the socialization of values in sociocultural context. First, it supports the view that there are cultural similarities across fathers (Tamis-LeMonda, 2015), including engagement, accessibility, and responsibility (Lamb, Pleck, Charnov, & Levine, 1987) as well as affective and cognitive involvement (Palkovitz, 1997). However, there are sociocultural differences such as traditional roles, teaching or training role, leadership role, and spiritual role. Second, the socialization of values is multidimensional with similarities and differences across generations which expands the prevailing conceptualization of values (Chuang & Su, 2009). These findings suggest that theory about fathering should guide data collection and analysis in a recursive process to gain a better understanding of fathering. Also, policy researcher and policy makers should acknowledge the roles of social fathers.

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