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Growing up without a father : the lived experience of fatherlessness for young adult men Maki-Banmen, Kathlyne


The purpose of this study was to provide an in-depth description of the lived experience of fatherlessness for young adult men who had been fatherless from infancy. Four men participated in the study. To be a part of the study, the young men had to be between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five and had to have been raised from before the age of three years without a father, step-father or father substitute. Participants were excluded from the study if they had any regular and significant contact with their fathers throughout their childhood and adolescence. A phenomenological approach was used for the interviews and data collection. The researcher conducted two interviews with each participant over a five month period. Five common themes representing the lived experience of fatherlessness for young adult men emerged from the interviews. The lived experience of fatherlessness (1) creates a perception of the person who the father may have been, (2) creates a perception of how things would have been different if father had stayed, (3) develops self-reliance and sensitivity, (4) creates a perception of what fathering entails, and (5) impacts relationships with family members, other men and women. The descriptions of each theme illustrate how the experience of fatherlessness impacted internal and interpersonal systems. The findings of this study describe how young adult men experience fatherlessness. Fatherlessness is a phenomenon which impacts both self and relationships with others. It is an interactive process which evolves over developmental stages throughout a lifetime. As young men gain understanding of themselves and their worlds, their feelings, thoughts, expectations and yearnings change, and the ways in which they interact with the world change as well. The findings of this study illuminate the lived experience of fatherlessness which serves to inform counselling research and practice in the area of fatherlessness for young adult men.

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