“You are not alone”: A big data and qualitative analysis of men's unintended fatherhood

Smith, Imogene, Youssef, George J., Shatte, Adrian, Teague, Samantha J., Knight, Tess, and Macdonald, Jacqui A. (2022) “You are not alone”: A big data and qualitative analysis of men's unintended fatherhood. SSM - Qualitative Research in Health, 2. 100085.

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Background: Becoming a father is a profound change in a man's life that is not always planned or wanted. Little is known about the subjective experiences of men who become fathers unintentionally or reluctantly. The aim of this research was to explore how men who did not intend to have children discuss their feelings about becoming a father in an online, anonymous environment. We sought insights into emotional responses, appraisals of family functioning, and relationships with infants.

Method: Data were collected from two Reddit forums for new and expectant fathers, r/Daddit and r/Predaddit. Approximately 2600 posts and 21,000 comments were extracted from the period between January 2019 and March 2020. We employed a two-stage methodology, blending big data techniques and qualitative analyses. Stage One included extraction and data preparation for topic modelling Stage Two was an adapted approach to thematic qualitative analysis.

Results: Topic modelling revealed 49 topics of which 6 were relevant thematically to unintended fatherhood. Men's communication in these were then classified within three domains: 1) Men's Concerns included their mental health, problems bonding with baby, their relationships with family and partner, and finances; 2) Men's Affective Experiences existed on a spectrum of complex emotions including regret, resignation, ambivalence, acceptance, and excitement; and 3) the Purpose of Communication included asking for and offering advice, normalisation, and perspective.

Conclusions: Online forums like Reddit provide a unique opportunity for fathers who did not intend to have children to normalize their experience by expressing concerns and emotions in a pseudonymous environment. This study highlights the supportive environment that online discussions offer to fathers, and particularly unexpected fathers who may face stigma or barriers in other settings.

Item ID: 73677
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2667-3215
Copyright Information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/bync-nd/4.0/).
Date Deposited: 02 May 2022 23:24
FoR Codes: 52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology > 520101 Child and adolescent development @ 50%
52 PSYCHOLOGY > 5203 Clinical and health psychology > 520302 Clinical psychology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 20 HEALTH > 2005 Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health) > 200504 Men's health @ 100%
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