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The objective of this study was to examine how involvement in a responsible fatherhood program affected participants' perceptions of masculinity and coparenting communication.
Responsible fatherhood programs emphasize the importance of being a nurturing and emotionally expressive father, challenging norms of hegemonic masculinity. This study examined how fathers described this hybrid masculinity and its impact on coparenting communication.
Thematic analysis of 37 semistructured in-depth interviews with a racially diverse sample of men enrolled in a responsible fatherhood program was conducted. Multiple investigators, researcher reflexivity, and an audit trail enhanced credibility, transferability, and dependability of the findings.
Fathers reported three types of communication with the mothers of their child(ren): confrontation, detachment, and engaged perspective-taking. The latter approaches were learned in the fatherhood program. Fathers described several beliefs and skills affecting these approaches, including the importance of fatherhood, modeling effective communication, controlling one's emotions, and listening and speaking respectfully.
Participation in the fatherhood program was useful in deescalating negative interactions and improving communication; however, beliefs about essential gender differences permeated participants' narratives.
Future programming for fathers should include curricula and peer mentoring to challenge norms of traditional masculinity and encourage multiple forms of egalitarian coparenting communication.