Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Cindy H. White

Second Advisor

David Boromisza-Habashi

Third Advisor

Bob Craig

Fourth Advisor

Stefanie Mollborn

Fifth Advisor

Karen Tracy


This dissertation examines the relational, cultural, and institutional discourses that shape divorced, nonresidential fathers’ experiences around fathering and coparenting through Baxter’s (2011) most recent conception of relational dialectics theory. The data in this dissertation consisted of interviews with divorced, nonresidential fathers who took a court-mandated coparenting class, interviews with facilitators of coparenting classes, and the documents within these classes. The use of contrapuntal analysis (Baxter, 2011) revealed (1) the existence of an institutional discourse of “prescribed” coparenting, (2) changing enactments of fathering and a discursive tension between “old” and “new” discourses of fathering expectations, and (3) an intersection between “prescribed” coparenting and the relational discourses of individualism and community. The results of this dissertation advance the study of divorced, nonresidential fathering and relational dialectics theory by stating the importance of examining relational, cultural, and institutional discourses as part of relational experience.

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