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Absent father study:

With 20% of Australian households without a father, a new study hopes to support men who had absent fathers.
By Motherpedia
Date: March 04 2013
Editor Rating:
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Men who grew up without a father, through divorce or family breakdown, are invited to share their experiences for a new research project under way at Southern Cross University (SCU).

The national study aims to explore adult men's experiences of father absence during their formative childhood and/or adolescent years.

The principal investigator is Dr Leah East from the University's School of Health and Human Sciences. SCU is partnering with The University of Technology, Sydney, for the study.

Dr East said approximately one in five Australian homes has an absent father.

"Research suggests that people who grow up without a father, as a result of family breakdown through divorce or separation, are exposed to greater life adversity, which can affect their life path.

"Males, in particular, have a greater risk of incarceration if they've grown up in a father-absent home. Father absence is associated with other health and wellbeing difficulties like poor school performance, lower self-esteem and early sexual activity.

"We want to gain insights into the lived experience of the boy-child growing up in such households. The results will be used to inform the development of appropriate services for these now adult men and their families."

Dr East has previously explored the impact of father absence on women with co-authors Professor Debra Jackson and Professor Louise O'Brien in the 2007 paper I don't want to hate him forever: Understanding daughters' experiences of father absence, published in the Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing

"The daughters in that study, now adult women, experienced vulnerability and difficulty in establishing loving and supporting relationships with men, and told us those difficulties were closely associated with their experiences of father absence," Dr East said.

"Also they carried a sense of abandonment, believing they themselves were the reason their father left, even though later on in life they realised it was an issue between the parents."

Men suitable for the study need to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Must be 21 years or older
  • Have grown up with a father absent from the home in childhood and/or adolescence as a result of family discord (divorce or breakdown) for a minimum of four years
  • Be able to spend approximately one hour in an interview, either a face to face interview in Lismore or Sydney OR a telephone interview
  • Be willing to discuss your experiences of father absence and reflect on whether father absence has affected your life path

To participate in the study or for more information about taking part, contact a member of the research team: Andrew Woods 02 6620 3304 andrew.woods@scu.edu.au or Larisa Barnes 0432 730 407 larisa.barnes@scu.edu.au

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