Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department / School

Sociology and Rural Studies

First Advisor

Robert Mendelsohn


This study assessed the effects that the death of a wife has on the roles of the widower when he becomes a single parent with school-age children. The literature review guided the study towards the areas of the family, roles of husband and wife, crises in families, specific crises which men become a single parent and men as single parents. An interactionist perspective was used with Znanieckis' Social Role theory to gain insight on the widowers processing of roles and social position. An exploratory survey of a sample population (N=46) of widowers with school-age children was used to gather data so an analysis of how the men adjust to his new role could be done. Data from the surveys was collapsed so an examination of this rare population co-uld be done. The findings indicate that length of marriage, length of widowhood, number of-children in family, child care for children age 18 and under, widowers educational level, widowers gross income and the age man was widowed play are important parts as to how the widower adjusts role change and role conflict. These variables only scratch the surface of an area which desperately needs more in-depth analysis from a sociological perspective. This exploratory study found the interactionist position extremely beneficial. With limited knowledge available on widowers with school-age this study opens the door for future research.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Widowers -- United States Single fathers -- United States Role conflict



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright 1996 the author