First Advisor

Susanne Klawetter

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and University Honors






Fatherhood -- Psychological aspects, Fatherhood -- Study and teaching, Fathers -- Services for, Parenting -- Study and teaching, Father and child




Aim: To examine the needs and experiences of fathers during the transition to fatherhood with the intent of improving perinatal education for fathers.

Background: The perinatal period is a highly transformational time for parents with implications in mental health, role development, identity formation, and relationship changes, to name a few. Unfortunately, research on fathers' needs and experiences during this time is limited, which consequentially restricts the development of father-inclusive perinatal education.

Method: An electronic search for qualitative studies was conducted using the PsycInfo database. Results were narrowed by a set of criteria and chosen studies' results were analyzed and organized into thematic groups.

Findings: Several themes emerged across the included studies which were organized with respect to four types of relationships that deeply influence the transition to fatherhood: fathers' relationships to self, to partner, to infant, and to social environment. We found a set of experiences common amongst fathers from the included studies that were discussed in terms of these relational categories.

Conclusions: Perinatal education should consider fathers' specific needs in the development of curriculum. This can be done by examining fathers' experiences during the transition to fatherhood holistically with respect to their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. Doing so will not only create a more effective and inclusive environment for fathers within perinatal education classes, but consequently improve child and family outcomes as well.


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Persistent Identifier

Cox Thesis Presentation.mp4 (188552 kB)
Watch the recorded symposium presentation for this thesis.