Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Sociology


Sociology and Anthropology

First Advisor

Elise S. Lake

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Jackson

Third Advisor

John J. Green

Relational Format



Single fathers have, for the most part, been overlooked in research, even though the proportion of children being raised by custodial fathers has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. This exploratory study aims to understand the factors that single fathers take into consideration when deciding which types of social support to use in helping them raise their children. By analyzing the results with the concepts of social exchange theory, we can better understand why some types of support are used and why others are not. Social exchange theory states that individuals will seek interactions with low costs and high rewards. I view decisions about the use of social support in social exchange terms: parents weigh the rewards and costs of using particular forms of support. To study the use of social support, I conducted interviews with twelve single fathers. Subjects were recruited using convenience and snowball sampling. During phone interviews, the subjects were asked a series of questions regarding social support, willingness to ask for help, and their relationships with the mothers of their children. I found the majority of single fathers in this study used friends and family members more for emotional support and advice, and less for physical support. Findings were consistent with the concepts found in social exchange theory. The fathers also stated they were encouraged to ask for help when they became the primary caregivers for their children. Overall, the fathers did use family members and friends for physical and emotional support and advice with their children.

Included in

Sociology Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.