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Evidence suggests that positive parenting can impact men’s mental wellbeing and child development, and male parents have a unique and critically important role as parents. Unfortunately, limited literature is available regarding the First Nations male parenting and the challenges they encounter raising children. Furthermore, the qualitative studies examining First Nations male parents do not appear effective for translating policy and practice. In effect, important knowledge from these qualitative studies is not informing or shaping First Nations male parenting programs. A systematic collation and meta-synthesis of existing qualitative studies may strengthen the evidence base and assist with the integrative knowledge into policy and practice.
A meta-synthesis of qualitative studies were performed to explore the experiences, barriers and facilitators to parenting among First Nations males. A systematic search in Social Sciences Citation Index, CINAHL, ProQuest, Informit Databases, Expanded Academic, Scopus and Google scholar for e-journals was conducted to identify studies that explored First Nations male parenting, barriers and facilitators. Thematic synthesis was performed to identify the key elements influencing (challenging or facilitating) them.
Nine qualitative studies were identified in the review, including eight peer-reviewed articles and one dissertation. Four themes emerged: (1) the complexity of roles and relationships; (2) poverty and exclusion; (3) sharing and receiving knowledge and (4) keeping strong. Elements across studies were identified as a barrier, facilitator or both to male parenting.
There is compelling evidence demonstrating the critical role of male parents to their own and their children’s development and wellbeing. This meta-synthesis generates a much-needed empirical foundation to guide further research, policy and practice for First Nations male parents. The meta-synthesis and the resulting explanatory theory can be used by communities, practitioners and policymakers to identify the barriers and facilitators that support and promote First Nations male parenting from an indigenous understanding of history and contemporary society.
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