• Daddy, can we play Beatles rock band? The lived experiences of a married student with children in a cohort-based education doctoral program

      Thomas, Tony J.
      The purpose of this research is to understand more clearly the lived experiences of married doctoral students with children who are enrolled in a cohort - based program. Attempting to maintain a strong family relationship, balance a career, enr oll in a doctoral program, and provide for a family is an avalanche of emotion and pressure on all members of the family. All facets of family relationships that have been strained need to be relieved of stressors and more focus needs to be on the family during each semester. With the time commitment caused by classes, studying, and through the dissertation process, family relationships can be torn apart by the lack of attention to the family. The ability of a doctoral student to survive the outside stra ins of life is increasingly difficult (Gardner, 2009; Madrey, 1983) . This qualitative, phenomenological study examined the lived experiences of married studen ts with children under 18 years old, in a cohort - based doctoral program at a Midwestern research university. Data were collected from a purposeful sample of 10 participants who had bee n students in a doctoral cohort - based program between 1998 and 2009. The chosen participants were enrolled in th e cohort based doctoral program but did not need to hav e graduated. An analysis of the data elicited five themes: support — “can I do this alone?” the effect of a doctoral program on the marital relationship, walkin’ the tightrope: balancing it all, filling the gender gap, and advice for present and future doc toral students who are married with children . This study recognized challenges and opportunities to better understand married doctoral students with children. It also recognized that with communication, cooperation, and compassion, the married doctoral student with children can have a successful academic a career and maintain a strong family relationship. The findings of this study aim to serve as a guide not only for married doctoral students with children but also for spouses, families, mentor s, program faculty, dissertation chairs, friends, and coworkers. The experiences of married doctoral students with children are not only unique, they are also inspirational. It is vital more research on this topic should occur and subsequent finding s are discovered to allow similar students to persist toward their educational endeavors and allow for their family relationships to remain strong and thrive.