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Mario Conliffe, Hannah Barnhill Bayne, Ph.D.

The Lived Experiences of College Age Men Who are Fatherless

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In this poster session I will present preliminary results from a pilot study on the lived experiences of college age men (ages 18-26) whose father was either physically and/or emotionally absent from their lives prior to age 13. Research has shown that fatherless children tend to be at a greater risk along a number of dimensions: academic challenges, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuous behavior, mental health issues (e.g., depression, anxiety), attachment issues (e.g., poor emotional connection, difficulty trusting others, an unfulfilled void), aggression, delinquency, crime, sexual abuse, and poverty (Biller, 1993; Jones, 2004; Lamb & Tamis-LeMonda, 2004; Mitchell & King, 2009; National Fatherhood Initiative, 2008; Williams, 2013). However, there seems to be a paucity of literature that voices this concern, and the limited scholarship that exists seems dated. Yet, fatherlessness is an ongoing and growing epidemic in the United States of America (National Fatherhood Initiative, 2008; United States Census Bureau; 2015). This gap in literature and the ever-growing concerns that fatherlessness presents indicate a need to empirically revisit and explore this phenomenon as experienced by young men who tend to be at a greater disadvantage than women in the wake of fatherlessness (Gruenert & Galligan, 2007). Thus, to further explore the aforementioned themes through first-person accounts, I selected a qualitative study with a phenomenological design. Data was collected via in-depth individual interviews regarding the unique experience of fatherlessness, including the way fatherlessness has, if at all, impacted the college age men who participated in this study. This poster presentation will include a description of current literature, rationale for this qualitative study, procedures of data collection and analysis, and preliminary results.

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