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Obstacles to the Full Investment of Fatherhood as Portrayed by Haitian Fathers

Gabrièle Gilbert, Sophie Gilbert

Research framework: The difficulty of investment shown by the father towards his child, especially after the separation from the mother, is a common phenomenon in Haiti. This problematic – which exposes women and children to negative consequences – is hardly documented in the scientific literature.

Objectives: The objective of this article is to understand the way Haitian fathers portray the possible obstacles to the full investment of fatherhood in Haiti.

Methodology: A qualitative research framework was employed. Using an open-ended lead-in question, the researcher invited participants to share their subjective experience of fatherhood. A process of coconstruction of meaning was conducted with the research subjects. Eleven fathers, living in Haiti without regular contact with at least one of their children, were interviewed. We did two interviews (1.5 hours each) with 10 participants, bringing the total number of interviews to 21.

Results: A thematic analysis revealed various potential obstacles to full paternal investment in Haiti, including the difficulty for the father to take his place within a matrifocal family configuration, the repetition of a failing paternal model, the tendency to adopt behaviours of avoidance (underpinned by a narcissistic vulnerability), as well as the psychic disinvestment of real fatherhood in favor of imagined one.

Conclusions: While the full investment in fatherhood seems to be regularly postponed by the fathers we met, their child remains present through their thoughts. The fathers’ participation in our research suggests a desire to change with regard to the problem.

Contribution: In addition to its contribution to the literature, this study offers avenues for future research. Recommendations for intervention are made, in a perspective of change regarding paternal investment in Haiti.

Objetivo: El objetivo de este artículo es entender cómo perciben los padres haitianos los posibles obstáculos a la plena encarnación de la paternidad en Haití.