'I don't want to hate him forever': Understanding daughter's experiences of father absence

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2007, 24 (4), pp. 14 - 18
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Objective: Father absence is associated with negative child and adolescent outcomes, including early sexual activity, teenage pregnancy, behavioural difficulties and life adversity. However there is a lack of literature that explores the lived experiences of daughters who grew up in father absent environments. This study aimed to generate insights into the lived experience of being a girl-child growing up in a father absent environment through the perspectives of daughters who experienced father absence during their childhood and/or adolescent years. Design: Van Manen's phenomenological research approach informed this study. Participants were recruited through the news media and took part in phenomenological interviews. Narrative was transcribed and analysed using Van Manen's thematic approach. Participants: Nine women aged between 22-46 years who had been raised by their biological mothers and who had experienced father absence due to parental relationship breakdown participated in the study. Results: Four themes that captured the participants lived experiences of father absence were revealed. These are: He always let me down: a constant source of hurt; I have no feelings of closeness: father as a stranger; All men are bastards: negotiating relationships with men; and, I don't want to hate him forever: reconstructing the relationship. Conclusions: Nurses and other health workers are challenged to meet the needs of increasing numbers of father absent children and young people and to develop supportive strategies to ameliorate the effects of father absence so as to contribute to the best possible outcomes for young people and their families.
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