Facilitators and Constraints: Toward an Understanding of Fathers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Youth Programs


  • Brooke Burk Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Iryna Sharaievska Clemson University




youth, recreation, fathers, volunteering, coaching


A challenge for park and recreation youth programming is adequate adult support for programming facilitation. Many recreation programs, whether municipal or private organizations, struggle to attract and retain volunteer coaches, particularly fathers. In recognition of this challenge, we aimed to learn more about this challenge by comparing fathers’ and practitioners’ experiences with youth programming. In particular, we wanted to learn more about the constraints and facilitators to fathers’ engagement in youth programming leadership. Working and fathering both require time that can be in conflict with one another when it comes to father involvement. However, McGill (2014) suggests that work does not have a negative relationship with time for leisure even though at times work may be seen as a barrier to leisure. While fathers do not report diminished time for leisure, they do report a negative relationship between work and physical care for children (McGill, 2014). Fathers, whether employed or not, who feel that they play a significant role in their children’s development, are likely to preserve time in their day for engagement with their children. Those that feel they play a key role and have a responsibility to be involved in child development are likely to reduce their personal leisure time to be more engaged in their children’s leisure time (McGill, 2014). The concepts of constraints (Jackson, 1991) and facilitators (Raymore, 2002) were employed in this project. As a result, the purpose of this study was to better understand what facilitators and constraints are experienced by fathers when it comes to their engagement in youth programs of their children. More specifically, the objectives of the study were to explore: a) what facilitates fathers' involvement in their children’s youth programs, as perceived by fathers and youth program professionals; b) what constrains fathers’ involvement in youth programs, as perceived by fathers and youth program professionals. Our results suggest that a more concerted effort to recruit, train, and support fathers as volunteer program leaders is needed to address the concern about limited participation among fathers in their children’s leisure and recreation programs.

Author Biography

Brooke Burk, Minnesota State University, Mankato

Department of Recreation, Parks and Leisure Services

Assistant Professor





Regular Papers