A Qualitative Inquiry of Fathering in the Rural Context of Appalachia Virginia

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Virginia Tech

Given the increasing evidence of the benefits of father involvement, this study examined the process of fathering and the contributions to supporting father involvement and father identity. Emerging research in fathering suggests a complex set of contextual factors as influences on father identity and behavior. Social location, identities, and life events provide an opportunity to study variation and change in fathering. Guided by an integrated framework of symbolic interactionism and intersectionality theories, this study examined fathers' needs and desires in parenting programs. To address these needs in the literature, grounded theory methods were employed to analyze data from semi-structured interviews of 50 fathers of infants residing in the Appalachian region of Virginia. Results revealed a process model of fathering consisting of interactions within and between themes of intrapersonal, interpersonal, and institutional and sociocultural domains. The factors of these three domains relate to father identity, meaning making in fatherhood, and enactment of fathering. Within a model of vulnerabilities and resiliencies, two typologies of fathers emerged: the thriving father and the evolving father. Implications for family strengthening programs and future research are explored.

father identity, father involvement, grounded theory, intersectionality