THE EXPERIENCE OF FATHERHOOD: ITS IMPACT ON A MAN'S GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT

ANDREA SUE ZEREN, Fordham University

Abstract

The life-span developmental perspective was used as a framework to examine the impact of fatherhood on normative male development. Two aspects of behavioral changes were investigated, with the central focus of each on the growth-oriented processes that are facilitated by fathering. The first assessment examined the extent to which the birth experience and actual parenthood produced differing self-perceptions. It was hypothesized that as compared to expectant fathers, first-time fathers would manifest higher levels on various adaptive indices of personality and psychological growth. In addition, although no hypotheses were formulated, a measure of different dimensions of maladaptive symptoms was included for comparative purposes. The results of t-tests between the 40 expectant fathers and 40 first-time fathers on the dependent measures revealed that as compared to expectant fathers, first-time fathers manifested significantly greater emphasis on a measure of Purpose of Life, and two self-actualization scales, as well as trends toward an increase on a measure of Generativity and a decrease on a measure of Impulsivity. Expectant fathers, however, rated themselves higher on a measure of anxiety than did first-time fathers.^ The second purpose of the study was to examine whether fathers are aware of change in themselves (recalled or anticipated) as a result of becoming a parent. This was accomplished with the use of an instructional variation procedure with assessments focused on either the period of time prior to fatherhood or the first years of fatherhood. The results of univariate analyses of variance on the adaptive indices of personality and psychological growth revealed that self-perceptions focused on the fatherhood period were higher on measures of Nurturance, Generativity and Purpose in Life, and lower on a measure of Impulsivity than assessments focused on the Pre-fatherhood period. Finally, under both instructional conditions, expectant fathers rated themselves higher on all indices of psychopathological symptoms and distress than did first-time fathers.^ Overall, the findings of the present study provided moderate support for the assertion that the experience of fathering facilitates male adult development, with the impact of fatherhood on specific dimensions that define a maturing self-concept. The findings were linked to previous theoretical perspectives and empirical on the topic of fatherhood and suggestions for future research were provided. ^

Subject Area

Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

ZEREN, ANDREA SUE, "THE EXPERIENCE OF FATHERHOOD: ITS IMPACT ON A MAN'S GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT" (1983). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8323553.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8323553

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