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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Judith Hoorn

First Committee Member

Robert Blaney

Second Committee Member

Lydia Flasher

Third Committee Member

Mari Irvin

Fourth Committee Member

Thomas Nelson


For many mothers and fathers, parenting books are the conduit to information on child development from to the scholarly and scientific communities. This study examined popular American parenting books from 1983–1998 to determine the types of fatherhood role expectations and perceptions regarding fathers that are being communicated to expectant and new parents. A telephone interview process was used to obtain a non-biased sample of the most popular parenting books in the nation. Three bookstores, hospitals, obstetric offices, and pediatric offices from each of 11 regions of the United States were selected for a total of 132 interviews which resulted in a 190 book nominations. The What to Expect series of books, written by Eisenberg, Murkoff, & Hathaway, received the most nominations. There were 40 votes for What to Expect When You're Expecting , 39 for What to Expect the First Year and 20 nominations for What to Expect the Toddler Years . The American Academy of Pediatrics book, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child received 15. Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care received ten votes and Burton Schmitt's Your Child's Health was nominated nine times. Ten others books received two or more nominations and were included in the sample. Results showed that fathers were noticeably absent from the pages of the parenting manuals. On average, the books devoted approximately 3.5% of the text and 7.5% of the illustrations to father-related issues. For this naturalistic study, grounded theory was used to examine the illustrations and text pertaining to fathers. The salient themes from the text indicate that parenting manual authors seem to marginalize the father's importance in the family: (a) Fathers play a subordinate role in parenting; (b) Fathers' family role family is unclear and confusing; (c) Fathers' involvement in the family is portrayed as increasing while simultaneously not increasing; (d) Fathers depicted as family providers whose family involvement is voluntary; and, (e) Fathers portrayed as inadequate, jealous, reluctant, and rejected. This investigation concluded that the parenting book illustrations were largely positive, in contrast to the more negative portrayal of fathers in the text.




9780599278783 , 0599278781

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