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The SSRC Library allows visitors to access materials related to self-sufficiency programs, practice and research. Visitors can view common search terms, conduct a keyword search or create a custom search using any combination of the filters at the left side of this page. To conduct a keyword search, type a term or combination of terms into the search box below, select whether you want to search the exact phrase or the words in any order, and click on the blue button to the right of the search box to view relevant results.

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  • Individual Author: Roy, Kevin M.; Lucas, Kristen
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2006

    Few studies have focused on disadvantaged men's efforts to seek a second chance to remake their lives. In this article, we examine expressions of generativity in life history interviews with a diverse sample of 77 Black and White low-income fathers. We explore what constituted "the difficult past" of men's failures as providers, partners, students, sons, and even parents. Fathers in the study attempted to make up for the difficult past through acting generatively as parents. We identify two narrative types: second chance for self in which fathers remake their own past failures and second chance for family in which fathers redo painful experiences during their own childhoods and repair broken generational ties. Finally, we consider how social disadvantage—through race and class differences—shapes fathers' narratives of second chances. The past is difficult, you know? Pain is never ending. If you know what it feels like, if anything has been taken away from you and you've been at the bottom of the bottoms … it's hell. You can't make up for it. You can take different bits and pieces...

    Few studies have focused on disadvantaged men's efforts to seek a second chance to remake their lives. In this article, we examine expressions of generativity in life history interviews with a diverse sample of 77 Black and White low-income fathers. We explore what constituted "the difficult past" of men's failures as providers, partners, students, sons, and even parents. Fathers in the study attempted to make up for the difficult past through acting generatively as parents. We identify two narrative types: second chance for self in which fathers remake their own past failures and second chance for family in which fathers redo painful experiences during their own childhoods and repair broken generational ties. Finally, we consider how social disadvantage—through race and class differences—shapes fathers' narratives of second chances. The past is difficult, you know? Pain is never ending. If you know what it feels like, if anything has been taken away from you and you've been at the bottom of the bottoms … it's hell. You can't make up for it. You can take different bits and pieces from the past to reinsure a hope that your future does not go into the same thing that already happened. Otherwise, it hurts. You're living in the past and can't change it. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Dubowitz, Howard; Lane, Wendy; Greif, Geoffrey L; Jensen, Tina K.; Lamb, Michael E.
    Reference Type: Journal Article
    Year: 2006

    We were interested in how low-income African American fathers of 12-year-old children in families identified as high risk viewed their role as father. Four focus group discussions involving 19 fathers were conducted. We had four key questions: (1) what the men perceived as the children's needs, (2) how they met those needs, (3) what motivated them to be involved, and (4) what barriers they faced. The fathers emphasized the children's need for love and support, and were concerned about materialism, violence, and promiscuity as they struggled to instill “good” values. They described the challenges of raising children in dangerous environments, and concerns about their daughters and their sexuality. Some men found it difficult to be a parent figure without being the biological father or by not living with the child. Many of their views on parenting were similar to those reported elsewhere by white as well as middle class men. Implications for practitioners are included. (author abstract)

    We were interested in how low-income African American fathers of 12-year-old children in families identified as high risk viewed their role as father. Four focus group discussions involving 19 fathers were conducted. We had four key questions: (1) what the men perceived as the children's needs, (2) how they met those needs, (3) what motivated them to be involved, and (4) what barriers they faced. The fathers emphasized the children's need for love and support, and were concerned about materialism, violence, and promiscuity as they struggled to instill “good” values. They described the challenges of raising children in dangerous environments, and concerns about their daughters and their sexuality. Some men found it difficult to be a parent figure without being the biological father or by not living with the child. Many of their views on parenting were similar to those reported elsewhere by white as well as middle class men. Implications for practitioners are included. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Legler, Paul; Turetsky, Vicki
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2006

    The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) provides new state flexibility to pass through more child support dollars to children who currently receive or formerly received welfare. The federal government will pick up part of the cost if states exercise this new flexibility. These changes provide opportunities for states to devise new strategies to increase parental support for poor children and reduce poverty. In this policy brief, we discuss three reasons for states to consider these new opportunities. (author abstract)

    The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA) provides new state flexibility to pass through more child support dollars to children who currently receive or formerly received welfare. The federal government will pick up part of the cost if states exercise this new flexibility. These changes provide opportunities for states to devise new strategies to increase parental support for poor children and reduce poverty. In this policy brief, we discuss three reasons for states to consider these new opportunities. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: Roy, Kevin; Palkovitz, Rob; Fagan, Jay
    Reference Type: Report
    Year: 2007

    In this paper, we examine the processes and contexts that allow nonresidential fathers to maintain close relationships with their children despite multiple life transitions. Specifically, we explore how development may not be an accumulation of normative statuses and turning points but an active and urgent strategizing to find alternative paths to participation as parents, partners, and workers. We focus on analyses of life history interviews collected from 146 fathers with demographic backgrounds parallel to those in the Fragile Families data set. Within this qualitative dataset, we focus on a subsample of particularly resilient fathers to explore the processes and contexts that shape transitory fathering and that cannot be captured in secondary analyses of large data sets. (author abstract)

    In this paper, we examine the processes and contexts that allow nonresidential fathers to maintain close relationships with their children despite multiple life transitions. Specifically, we explore how development may not be an accumulation of normative statuses and turning points but an active and urgent strategizing to find alternative paths to participation as parents, partners, and workers. We focus on analyses of life history interviews collected from 146 fathers with demographic backgrounds parallel to those in the Fragile Families data set. Within this qualitative dataset, we focus on a subsample of particularly resilient fathers to explore the processes and contexts that shape transitory fathering and that cannot be captured in secondary analyses of large data sets. (author abstract)

  • Individual Author: England, Paula; Edin, Kathryn
    Reference Type: Book Chapter/Book
    Year: 2007

    Today, a third of American children are born outside of marriage, up from one child in twenty in the 1950s, and rates are even higher among low-income Americans. Many herald this trend as one of the most troubling of our time. But the decline in marriage does not necessarily signal the demise of the two parent family—over 80 percent of unmarried couples are still romantically involved when their child is born and nearly half are living together. Most claim they plan to marry eventually. Yet half have broken up by their child's third birthday. What keeps some couples together and what tears others apart? After a breakup, how do fathers so often disappear from their children's lives?

    An intimate portrait of the challenges of partnering and parenting in these families, Unmarried Couples with Children presents a variety of unique findings. Most of the pregnancies were not explicitly planned, but some couples feel having a child is the natural course of a serious relationship. Many of the parents are living with their child plus the mother’s child from a previous relationship....

    Today, a third of American children are born outside of marriage, up from one child in twenty in the 1950s, and rates are even higher among low-income Americans. Many herald this trend as one of the most troubling of our time. But the decline in marriage does not necessarily signal the demise of the two parent family—over 80 percent of unmarried couples are still romantically involved when their child is born and nearly half are living together. Most claim they plan to marry eventually. Yet half have broken up by their child's third birthday. What keeps some couples together and what tears others apart? After a breakup, how do fathers so often disappear from their children's lives?

    An intimate portrait of the challenges of partnering and parenting in these families, Unmarried Couples with Children presents a variety of unique findings. Most of the pregnancies were not explicitly planned, but some couples feel having a child is the natural course of a serious relationship. Many of the parents are living with their child plus the mother’s child from a previous relationship. When the father also has children from a previous relationship, his visits to see them at their mother’s house often cause his current partner to be jealous. Breakups are more often driven by sexual infidelity or conflict than economic problems. After couples break up, many fathers complain they are shut out, especially when the mother has a new partner. For their part, mothers claim to limit dads’ access to their children because of their involvement with crime, drugs, or other dangers. For couples living together with their child several years after the birth, marriage remains an aspiration, but something couples are resolutely unwilling to enter without the financial stability they see as a sine qua non of marriage. They also hold marriage to a high relational standard, and not enough emotional attention from their partners is women’s number one complaint.

    Unmarried Couples with Children is a landmark study of the family lives of nearly fifty American children born outside of a marital union at the dawn of the twenty-first century. Based on personal narratives gathered from both mothers and fathers over the first four years of their children’s lives, and told partly in the couples' own words, the story begins before the child is conceived, takes the reader through the tumultuous months of pregnancy to the moment of birth, and on through the child's fourth birthday. It captures in rich detail the complex relationship dynamics and powerful social forces that derail the plans of so many unmarried parents. The volume injects some much-needed reality into the national discussion about family values, and reveals that the issues are more complex than our political discourse suggests. (author abstract)

    Table of Contents 

    Part I- Introduction

    Chapter 1: Unmarried Couples with Children: Hoping for Love and the White Picket Fence - Paula England and Kathryn Edin

    Part II - Couple Relationships among Unmarried Parents

    Chapter 2: Forming Fragile Families: Was the Baby Planned, Unplanned, or In Between? - Kathryn Edin, Paula England, Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer, and Joanna Reed

    Chapter 3: Everyday Gender Conflicts in Low-Income Couples - Paula England and Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer

    Chapter 4: Expectations and the Economic Bar to Marriage among Low-Income Couples - Christina Gibson-Davis

    Chapter 5: Steppin' Out: Infidelity and Sexual Jealousy among Unmarried Parents - Heather Hill

    Chapter 6: Anatomy of the Breakup: How and Why do Unmarried Couples with Children Break Up? - Joanna Reed

    Part III - Parenting Together and Apart

    Chapter 7: #1 Father or Fathering 101?: Couple Relationship Quality and Father Involvement When Fathers Live with Their Children - Kathryn Linnenberg

    Chapter 8: Blended but Not the Bradys: Navigating Unmarried Multiple Partner Fertility - Lindsay Monte

    Chapter 9: Gatekeeper Moms and (Un)Involved Dads: What Happens After a Breakup? - Amy Claessens

    Chapter 10: Child Support among Low-Income Noncustodial Fathers - Katherine Magnuson and Christina Gibson-Davis

    Part IV - Mixing Qualitative and Quantitative Methods and Data 

    Chapter 11: Mixing Methods: Reliability and Validity Across Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of Relationship Quality - Mimi Engel

    Chapter 12: Data from the TLC3 - Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer

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