Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
November 17, 1999
Divorced, separated dads needed for U of G study
Divorced or separated men who are striving to maintain an active role in their children's lives are being sought for a new study by a University of Guelph researcher.
Prof. Anna Dienhart, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, hopes to interview men about being involved in their child/children's lives post-divorce or-separation. The fathers may be the custodial or non-custodial parent.
"Fathers who are separated or divorced are often depicted as being ‘good enough dads' if they consistently and adequately provide for their children financially. This is not the whole story," Dienhart said.
"Many divorced fathers want and achieve more than this – they are attached to their children, concerned about them, and work at remaining actively involved with their lives. I am interested in the experience of fatherhood after separation or divorce beyond providing for the children, and why this is important both for children and for fathers."
Dienhart would like to speak with men about experiences that have made it possible for them to stay connected to and actively involved in their children's lives. "Often men experience stress and conflict with the child's mother as they work out how to maintain a strong relationship with their children after separation or divorce," she said. "It is thought that some men give up their relationships with the children to avoid that conflict." Dienhart is interested in learning about how men have negotiated with their former partners so they do stay involved in their child's life.
Dienhart also wants to know how fathers help their children's transition and their children cope with the new realities of their complex families. "My role as researcher is primarily that of raising questions and being a curious listener, the men are the experts here," she said.
She plans to conduct one- to two- hour taped interviews with each participant, and analyze the interviews for common themes. Research participants will receive a summary of the results.
"Participation in this research will contribute to broadening and deepening our understanding of how men have navigated being an involved parent who is separated or divorced," Dienhart said. "I hope to create an appreciation of what is possible for men and their children after separation or divorce." She will take this understanding to her work training marriage and family therapist to they can help other families who are making the transition to separation or divorce.
Exploring alternatives to traditional parenting roles is a subject Dienhart has studied and written about extensively. In her book, Reshaping Fatherhood, published in 1998, she studied shared-parenting couples and examined their resourcefulness and approach to parenting. Among her work, she also authored a chapter in the 1997 book Generative Fathering with colleague Prof. Kerry Daly, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, that focused on how the role of men in parenting is still undervalued in society.
For additional information, or to participate in the study, contact Dienhart at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3975.
Anna Dienhart, Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition (519) 824-4120, Ext. 3975