Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Shawna J. Lee


Determining fathers' perceptions of community norms on discipline is paramount to understanding how to develop social work interventions that target fathers' parenting behaviors. Understanding why a father engages in one form of discipline over another in child rearing and understanding how fathers view their parenting role is important when discussing implementation of parenting programs. This study was conducted using qualitative focus groups comprised of men ranging from late adolescents to mid-adulthood. The majority of the men were lower economic status, African American fathers recruited from a human services agency in Detroit. One-hour long, semi-structured focus group discussions were content coded, resulting in narratives based on several themes. There were four major themes presented; community resources for men to learn how to parent, discipline techniques used in the community, effective versus ineffective discipline, and an overarching ideology of the group. Two other themes were discussed in less depth: types of discipline not frequently used by parents in the community and fathering programs that are available or could be available to help men learn about parenting. The main conclusion was that while corporal punishment is practiced, the majority of these men felt that other discipline techniques were used more often. Another important conclusion is the men in the focus groups suggested that parents should use communication with all other forms of discipline otherwise the discipline technique will be ineffective. Finally, the men in these focus group sessions suggested that programs aimed at helping or teaching fathers in constructive and

concrete ways, i.e. having fathers engage in activities with their children or having a mentoring program, was preferable to a parenting class.

Included in

Social Work Commons