Young Peoples Attitudes to Fatherhood

The aim of this research was to look at what fatherhood meant to people and how fathers should be or what they are being. The main objective was to get mostly children’s views on duties and responsibilities of fathers. O’Brien and Jones had a sample of 6 of the 8 state secondary schools in East London. They chose 4 class groups, which were of mixed ability, from the third and fifth forms of each school. Data was gathered by the children doing questionnaires in the classroom. This was done every day for one week.

It asked for their opinions about what should be expected of fathers, or if fathers should be doing this, including attendance at childbirth, paternity leave, contact and support after divorce, roles in families, and involvement in domestic duties. The average age of the children was 14 years and 9 months. The gender balance was slightly in favour of boys with 55% being male. There is a good mix of cultural backgrounds with 83% being British white and the rest Asian, black-British, afro-Caribbean, European, Chinese or Arab.

Most of the children were living in two parent households with a third having some kind of parental change. Their background was mostly working class. Triangulation was also used in the research as interviews, and diaries were kept. But the researcher mostly concentrates on the questionnaires given out which made up the survey data. It may have been ethically wrong to ask for these children’s opinions on fatherhood, especially in the diaries. 252 The study was based on mostly quantitative data, from questionnaires, which lead to a lot of tables.

This gave the researcher the opportunity to identify many patterns and trends in the children’s opinions. The questionnaires were made extensive so that nothing was missed out. Questionnaires would have been the best way to start off in this study as the sample was quite big consisting of six state secondary schools. The researchers gave out the questionnaires in the classroom. This would have give them 100% return. O’Brien and Jones illustrated the graphs as a percentage of what the children were thinking. (Appendix a)

A problem with doing questionnaires in this research is that it would not be very high on validity, this is because it is a sensitive subject and they wouldn’t always tell the truth which wouldn’t give a very true insight. It would also not be very reliable because the questionnaires were done in the classroom, this is because they could have rushed it, not giving it much thought. They could have copied it from a friend, making a lot of the answers given back the same. Issues of confidentiality between the children and the researchers or the teacher. This could have made the students lie.

The researchers also asked some of the students to keep daily diaries for one week at home. The diaries would have given greater validity of the children’s attitudes to fatherhood although it may have been hard to analyse the diaries and they may have been incomplete. Two women did the research. This could have been a problem and may have caused researcher bias as two men would have asked different questions compared to two women. 282 The main findings of the research are that the response to fatherhood by the children is that they expect a modern family man “new man” even.

This is one who shares roles and duties in the household and is also emotionally involved with the children. A response used a lot by the children on some of the questions was “it is the fathers right”. This was used in answering questions on; attendance at birth, men’s access to paternity leave, and support and access to children after divorce. The research met its aim by providing tables of children’s opinions in a statistical way. The reliability of the research was good because it was quite big. To say something is reliable is to go back and do the research in exactly the same way and get the same results.

It is not very high on generalisability though and it would not be safe to generalise these findings with the rest of Britain because the research was only done in East London. It would be okay to generalise about East London though. The study was representative of both culture and gender. The research is not very high on validity because it is a sensitive subject and people will not always tell the truth, especially in questionnaires and also because they are at a young age. It may also have been ethically wrong to ask the children sensitive questions about their family because they may not have wanted to talk about it.

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