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Talking to ten year olds about puberty, relationships and reproduction: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of fathers’ perceptions and practices.

Bennett, Clare ORCID: 2015. Talking to ten year olds about puberty, relationships and reproduction: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of fathers’ perceptions and practices. Cardiff University.
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This thesis employed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis to explore eight fathers’ perceptions and practices in talking to their ten year old children about puberty, relationships and reproduction. Eight fathers, of four girls and four boys respectively, participated in face to face interviews which were analysed idiographically initially, followed by analysis at the group level. Interpretations were then developed through synthesis of the findings with the wider literature and through critical application of a Foucauldian lens of governmentality and biopower. The results revealed a tension between the fathers’ cognitions, accounts and behaviours. Their practices were largely characterised by silence yet they reported positive attitudes towards children’s sexuality education and perceived themselves as equipped and willing to take on the role of sexuality educator. They also reported enjoying open relationships with their children. Interpretations centred on contradictions and conflict between the majority of the fathers’ aspirations and the compelling nature of the childhood innocence discourse as a technology of governmentality. Whilst all of the fathers felt that it was in their children’s interests to learn about sexuality, all but one adhered to hegemonic protective discourses and unquestioningly integrated their normalising effects into their fathering practices. In keeping with neoliberalist values, the fathers wished to minimise risk which they managed, paradoxically, by suppressing sexuality dialogue. A contradiction between cultural expectations and the conduct of fathering also emerged for seven of the eight fathers which appeared to relate to masculinities, gender ideologies and primary socialisation. This study has surfaced the power of subtle coercions of neoliberalist governmentality and the childhood innocence ideal in influencing fatherhood practices. However, by continuing the silence that largely characterises father-child sexuality communication, fathers are paradoxically potentially rendering their children more vulnerable both now and in the future. It is, therefore, essential that protective discourses are challenged and fathers are supported in talking to their children about sexuality in its broadest sense.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Healthcare Sciences
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2023 02:24

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