ABSTRACT Objective: To explore the beliefs, attitudes, and needs young men have regarding their role as a father.
Design and Sample: Exploratory, descriptive, qualitative design. Young fathers/young expectant fathers were recruited from service sites within a city in Massachusetts. Men were considered young fathers/young expectant fathers if they were or would be <20 years old at the birth of a first child or the mother of their baby was or would be <20 years old at the baby's birth and the young man was <25 years old.
Measures: Participants were interviewed utilizing open-ended questions, which included the following: the characteristics of good fathers, goals/needs for self and child, and whether or not they planned to raise the child as their father raised them and why.
Results: Responses regarding fathering clustered into the following themes: being available; providing support; and self-improvement, including completing education and becoming a positive role model. Forty-seven percent believed that being employed or finishing school would help them be better fathers; 77% reported they would not raise their child as their own father had raised them, citing physical and/or emotional abuse/abandonment.
Conclusions: Young men in this study identified several challenges to being “good” fathers. These included lack of employment, education, and positive role models.