Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Kathleen E. Piercy


Kathleen E. Piercy


Scot M. Allgood


Byron R. Burnham


Shelley Knudsen Lindauer


Brent W. Miller


Fathering has been studied with renewed interest by scholars seeking to understand the unique effects and contributions fathers have in the lives of children. Father involvement has been measured by tracking fathers· engagement with. accessibility to. and responsibility for their children during childhood and adolescence. Generative fathering theorists have proposed that fathering and fatherhood are better understood by expansion of the dimensions of father involvement. Generative fathering research has found that father-child relationships are imbued with meaning across the life cycle. The meaning of generative fathering was explored in this study across four generations of fathers. all from one extended family tree. By applying a phenomenological method of inquiry through long interviews, the participants themselves have offered a unique description of the essence of generative fathering for their family. The similarities and differences in the qualitative nature of the fathering experience were expressed by the participants both between and within the generations. The influence of the spouses of the participants on both the conception and practice of fathering was explored along with other familial and nonfamilial influences. The results of the study provide evidence of the transmission of the meaning of fathering generatively over the generations in a unique ex tension of the definition beyond that of other theorists. There is support as well for key elements of the generative fathering conceptual framework and the model of responsible fathering.