Fathers’ Accounts of Struggle and Growth in Early Adulthood: An Exploratory Study of Disadvantaged Men

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Abstract

This chapter explores how fatherhood prompts struggle and growth in the psychological, social, and economic changes associated with the transition to adulthood. Little is known about these connections, especially for disadvantaged Latino and White fathers who live in small and mid-sized American communities. We draw on eight in-depth focus groups with 48 fathers (27 Latino and 21 White) who have children in low-income schools in a small and mid-sized American community. These men face significant challenges in establishing themselves at work—a central task of both adulthood and fatherhood—and in balancing these demands alongside the strong expectation that they also be involved fathers. Involved fathering is key to understanding dynamics related to identity and meaning and to relationships with spouses and friends, which are also intertwined with the process of becoming adult. The discussion considers how fatherhood can promote and constrain adult development for disadvantaged men. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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