Perspective on the meaning of fatherhood: Four case studies of rural, White fathers

Brent Allen Lawless, University of Pennsylvania


The body of work on fatherhood is still emerging via multi-disciplinary research, policy, and practice discussions. Research has primarily focused on issues of father involvement among academically segregated groups of fathers (i.e., middle-income, White fathers, and low-income, minority fathers) in urban settings. Few studies have examined fathering issues in rural contexts, much less looked at why fathers are often absent from social services including their children's counseling sessions. In this study, four fathers who were White and living in a rural part of Southeast Texas were interviewed to shed light on why men do not attend their children's counseling sessions. Interview data was collected, transcribed, and analyzed for emergent themes by constant comparative methods. Findings revealed that: these men identified as good fathers despite limited father role models; they prioritized "being there" with their children over providing economically; and their sense of masculinity intersected with their fathering roles on multiple levels. Based on these reports, it was speculated that mother-father relationship conflict, unsupportive relationships, and dissatisfaction in father roles might explain why some fathers do not attend their children's counseling sessions. Implications for fathering, research, practice, and policy are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Lawless, Brent Allen, "Perspective on the meaning of fatherhood: Four case studies of rural, White fathers" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3209997.