Silently panicking : a thematic analysis of a UK-based online peer support forum for fathers of pre-school children

Mackay, Sean and Limmer, Mark (2018) Silently panicking : a thematic analysis of a UK-based online peer support forum for fathers of pre-school children. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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In the United Kingdom, professional-led parenting support is largely aimed at mothers (Donetto et al., 2013). Gender expectations on men may result in barriers to fathers seeking advice or support about parenting. Increasingly, people are turning to the internet for advice and information, and also to share their experiences (Ziebland & Wyke, 2012). The purpose of this thesis was to investigate how fathers of pre-school children sought help by using a UK-based online discussion forum, and what the messages indicated about how they negotiated the competing demands and expectations on them. Taking a constructionist perspective, a thematic analysis of 835 posts explored themes of fatherhood, masculinity and online peer support. The findings demonstrated that fathers experienced challenges during the transition to fatherhood, and in the early years of parenting. Within the discussion boards, they sought and received information and social support, and both self-disclosure and self-help mechanisms were evident. The fatherhood roles that the men practiced were nuanced and fluid, and the fathers drew upon a range of strategies to mitigate their help seeking and thereby maintain their masculine status. The online nature of the communication also removed some of the constraints of expected masculine behaviour. However, as engagement with the discussion board developed, reciprocity and universality became stronger characteristics of the communication. The interplay between configurations of gendered practice was articulated. The thesis concluded that online peer support is an acceptable and appropriate form of support for fathers. Recommendations for health professionals were made, and a model of the fathers’ engagement with the discussion forum was developed.

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Thesis (PhD)
?? fatherfatherhoodmasculinitypeer supportonline support groupshelp seeking ??
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02 Apr 2020 14:00
Last Modified:
13 Mar 2024 00:06