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A Study Of Young Father College Enrollees: An Investigation Of Shared Parenting With Implications For Public Policy (Family)

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Purpose. The purpose of this study was to identify the attitudes a specific group of young fathers have toward (a) shared parenting, and (b) proposed public policies designed to assist two-wage earner families. The data collected were used to make recommendations useful to teachers who plan curriculum for family life, parenting or parenthood classes. Procedure. The data were collected by interviewing a non-random sample of sixty young fathers enrolled in college at four Northern California universities. The telephone or in-person interviews utilized a structured interview guide and were recorded on audio tape. Findings. The sixty male subjects were primarily seniors and graduate students between the ages of 29 and 35. The subjects were married to women who themselves had career goals and either graduate or undergraduate degrees themselves. The subjects were all fathers of one to three children who were primarily of preschool or elementary school age. Eleven parenting responsibilities were identified and it was concluded that these fathers most often share discipline and those responsibilities that do not interfere with their work or study schedules. Mothers retained the major responsibility for caretaking. The subjects showed a preference for traditional roles and were uncertain about their feelings in regard to working mothers and the effect working mothers have on children. The subjects believed the trend to more two-wage earner families would continue for economic reasons. When asked about eight identified public policy proposals designed to assist two-wage earner families, the subjects indicated they would generally support a more explicit family policy, but would prefer that help come from the work place. Two policies given particular support were the flextime and corporate day care. Recommendations. Further research should be pursued to explore shared parenting attitudes among young fathers. Input into parenting classes should involve fathers and curriculum for tomorrow's parents should be future-oriented in order to prepare young people for their potential dual roles as parents and wage earners. Further, students should be informed of public policy proposals to assist two-wage earner families; and fathers, along with mothers, should become involved in public policy formation that affects families and influences child care. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

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