All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

William C Cockerham

Advisory Committee Members

Farnad Darnell

Belinda Needham

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2012

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate how assuming a paternal role for the first time affects the mental and physical health of males, and identify the key characteristics of the paternal role. The characteristics deemed most important by first-time fathers were providing love (51.3%), being a teacher (19.9%), participating in childcare responsibilities (11.8%), providing financially (9.6%), providing protection (3.7%), and being an authority figure (3.7%). Conversely, 21.1% of fathers stated financial obligations were not important, and 18.7% of fathers deemed participating in childcare not important. All fathers within this study self-reported being at least moderately active in their child's life rendering the paternal involvement scale insignificant in correlation with paternal mental and physical health. In further examination, the self-rated most-involved fathers also showed no significant correlation with their health. However, 35.1% of fathers reported having poor mental health; fathers did not attribute their mental status to parental involvement as 98.4% indicated that first-time fatherhood was a positive and fulfilling experience. Although identifying the causal variables of paternal mental health was beyond the scope of this study, theoretical contributions of this study suggest that postpartum depression of males is not yet a constructed concept and male partners may not identify this as a plausible health outcome.

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