issue 2 12 b - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

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issue 2 12 b - APS Member Groups - Australian Psychological Society

Adolescent sons of FIFO fathers101anxiety. In her qualitative study of familieswith children aged between 10 months and13 years, Gallegos (2006) found childrenwere adaptable to the lifestyle but the degreeof adaptability was influenced by the parents’ability to manage the frequent transitionsassociated with the particular roster.To date, little research has beencompleted on the impacts of FIFOemployment on the adolescent sons of FIFOemployees and thus the impacts are currentlynot well understood. In particular, little isknown about adolescent boys’ perceptions ofthe impacts of their fathers’ FIFOemployment on themselves and theirfamilies. Understanding these experiences isimportant as the FIFO fathers’ constant‘comings and goings’ have the potential toimpact on the relationship with theiradolescent sons which in turn couldsignificantly influence their psychologicaland social well-being and educationalaspirations. Adolescents have differentdurations of experience of FIFO. For some, itis a familiar lifestyle as their fathers mayhave been engaged in this type ofemployment for a long period of time.However, for other adolescents it may be anew experience as a consequence of themigration of workers into the resource sectorin response to industry workforcerequirements (Chamber of Minerals andEnergy, 2008).The Present StudyThe aim of this study was to exploreadolescent boys’ experiences of their father’sFIFO employment. In doing so it posed thefollowing questions:1. What are the experiences of adolescentboys whose fathers work away fromhome for extended periods on a FIFObasis?2. What are the adolescent social andpsychological issues that arise fromsuch a father-son relationship?MethodResearch DesignQualitative methodologies assume thatpeople actively create their social worlds(Smith, 1990). The current study sought tounderstand the lived experiences ofadolescent boys whose fathers were currentlyemployed in a FIFO capacity and thus aqualitative methodology was deemedappropriate. In particular, aphenomenological approach was utilised asunderstanding the participants’ subjectiveexperiences and the meanings they associatedwith FIFO living were central to the study(Crotty, 1998). Phenomenological approachesare based on the epistemologicalunderstanding of personal knowledge andsubjectivity, that people are “active creatorsof their world and have a consciousness thatcommunicates to them everyday experiencesand knowledge” (Sarantakos, 1993, p. 48).The reality of an experience is inextricablylinked to an individual’s consciousness ofthat experience as well as the outwardexperience (Becker, 1992; Liamputtong &Ezzy, 2005). Phenomenology also requiresresearchers to bracket or set aside their ownpreconceived ideas about the phenomenon inorder to understand it through the voices ofthe informants (Creswell, 2003).ParticipantsEight adolescent males, as described inTable 1, participated in this study.Informants’ ages ranged from 13 years 9months to 21 years 10 months. Each of theadolescent informants was a member of a two-parent family in which the father wascurrently engaged in FIFO work in theresources sector. Two informants lived withtheir biological mother and step-father. Themajority of the fathers (n = 7) were employedby resource companies; six worked in the offshoreoil and gas industry and one in landbasedmetalliferous mining. The remainingfather was self-employed, operating contractsfor a number of companies covering bothThe Australian Community Psychologist Volume 24 No 2 November 2012© The Australian Psychological Society Ltd

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