Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


This dissertation investigated nurturant fathering as demonstrated by men of differing father-absent backgrounds. Archival data was used from a 1990 survey of 1,515 religious and highly motivated participants in fathering seminars in various regions of the United States. Reasons for father absence included death, divorce, work, and no absence. The influence of type of father absence was examined within the context of (a) participant's age at the time his father became absent, (b) participant's satisfaction with childhood relationship with father, and (c) participant's satisfaction with childhood relationship with mother.

The Personal Fathering Profile (PFP) (Canfield, 1990) was used to measure eight aspects of nurturant fathering. The PFP is a 138-item, self-report instrument using 5- and 7-point Likert scales. Data was subjected to several multivariate analysis. Results indicated significant main effects for three measures of family-of-origin relationships (father absence, satisfaction with childhood relationship with father, and satisfaction with childhood relationship with mother) .

The global direction of these differences indicated a trans-generational movement toward healthy fathering. These differences were consistent with social learning theory and general psychodynamic theory. Participants were found to compensate for their fathers' obvious failures (e.g., amount of time spent with children) and to imitate the more subtle aspects of fathering (e.g., aspects of nurturant fathering) .

Isolated main effects indicated that childhood relationship with father and childhood relationship with mother made gender specific contributions to the development of instrumental and expressive fathering skills respectively. Relationship with father contributed to (a) commitment, (b) knowing children, and (c) protecting and providing. Relationship with mother contributed to (a) consistency, (b) loving spouse, and (c) active listening. Follow-up analysis indicated that the synergetic union of a father and mother contributed more to their son's development of these six measures of nurturant fathering than did the mere sum of the father's and mother's individual contributions.

A father's presence influenced his life expectancy as well as the length of his wife's life. Divorce appeared to shorten life span of fathers and mothers by 10 and 18 years respectively. Work patterns where sons considered the father missing appeared to shorten life span of fathers and mothers by 6 and 12 years respectively.

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