School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Samuel J. Smith


Father Absence, Fatherlessness, Lived Experience, Male Adolescents, Phenomenology


Education | Educational Leadership | Educational Psychology | Secondary Education and Teaching | Student Counseling and Personnel Services


This study investigated the lived experiences of teenage males who did not have a father figure at home during high school. Participants included eight males of varying ethnicities, ages 18-23, who graduated from high school within the last five years. This was a qualitative study with a phenomenological design. The major data collection method was three in-depth interviews. The two research questions asked "How do adolescent males perceive the absence of a father to have impacted them during high school?" and "Were any school-related interventions available for students without fathers, and if so, how did students perceive these interventions to have impacted them?" To analyze the data, horizons were coded, invariant constituents were identified through axial coding, and themes were identified from the invariant constituents. Six themes--attachment, other influences, needs, emotions, behaviors, and identity--were identified from the analysis of the data. The needs that participants wanted and expected their fathers to meet included support, someone to go to for guidance and advice, someone to hold them accountable and discipline them, someone to help motivate, someone to teach them certain skills and gender roles, and someone with whom to share a father-son bond. When fathers were unavailable, participants depended on mothers, grandparents, peers, mentors in the community, teachers, administrators, and guidance counselors to meet these needs. The participants in this study conveyed that most of these needs remained unmet during high school. When these needs were not met, the impact was seen emotionally and behaviorally, influencing the participants' identities