Date of Award

May 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Lindsay M. Timmerman

Committee Members

Erik Timmerman, Kathryn Dindia, John Jordan, Sarah Halpern-Meekin


Nonresidential Parenting, Symbolic Interactionism


Nonresidential parents are defined as parents who do not live with one or more of their biological children all or most of the time. Using symbolic interactionism as a theoretical framework, this study considers nonresidential parenting from a communication perspective. 40 nonresidential parents (20 mothers and 20 fathers) were interviewed in order to explore how nonresidential parents conceptualize their parent roles, how these parents report enacting their parenting, and the communication challenges they experience within their relationships with their children. Inductive analysis resulted in the identification of eight nonresidential parent roles (limited role, active participant, nurturer, provider - tangible, teacher, sole parent, co-parent, and disciplinarian), 11 parenting behaviors (school involvement, spending time together, keeping in touch, assurances, providing - tangible, showing physical affection, supporting - emotional, disciplining, teaching, physical well-being - involvement, and co-parenting), and four main communication challenges (the residential parent, difficult topics, the children's refusal to communicate, and limits of mediated communication). These results are described within the context of the pre-existing literature on nonresidential parenting and connections between categories and research questions are presented.

Included in

Communication Commons