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Better safe than sorry?: Quantitative and qualitative aspects of child-father relationship after parental separation in cases involving intimate partner violence
Örebro University, School of Law, Psychology and Social Work, Örebro University, Sweden.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The relationship between a child and its parents (caregivers) is essential for the child’s development and well-being. When one of these parents uses violence against the other parent (intimate partner violence, IPV), this will affect the child one way or another: physically, psychologically, cognitively, socially. When two parents separate, the circumstances surrounding contact between the child and its parents change. The aim of this thesis is to analyse – in the context of Swedish parenting ideals and family norms – aspects of children’s relationships (after parental separation) with a father who has used violence against the mother in order to bring forward a foundation to discuss if and under what circumstances a continued contact is in the best interest of the child. The empirical basis for the thesis consists of two different sets of data. The first is qualitative interviews with children living at a women’s shelter (n=10). The second is a subset of data from a large evaluation study investigating support tochildren who had witnessed IPV. The latter material  comprises interviews with and psychometric data on 165 mothers and 165 children. Results from the first article show that a majority of the children (75%) had continued contact with their fathers after parental separation, and that even in cases where there were indications of child abuse, about 50% of the children had unsupervised face-to-face contact with their fathers. This high rate can possibly be explained by the assumption (supported in legislation) that children have a need for contact. Further, the second article shows that children with and without contact do not differ in their level of well-being; i.e. contact with a violent father does not have the positive effect on children that has been found in general samples. In the third article, the violent fathers are described by the children as lazy and unreliable. Child–father contact is discussed in terms of why, when and how contact is in the child’s best interest.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro university , 2016. , 189 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Social work, ISSN 1651-145X ; 17
Keyword [en]
intimate partner violence, child abuse, child-father contact, separation, divorce, fathering, childing, care
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-49460ISBN: 978-91-7529-134-5 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-49460DiVA: diva2:914439
Public defence
2016-05-13, Långhuset, Hörsal 2, Örebro universitet, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 10:15 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-03-24 Created: 2016-03-24 Last updated: 2016-12-12Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Patterns in child–father contact after parental separation in a sample of child witnesses to intimate partner violence
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Patterns in child–father contact after parental separation in a sample of child witnesses to intimate partner violence
2015 (English)In: Journal of family Violence, ISSN 0885-7482, E-ISSN 1573-2851, Vol. 30, no 3, 339-349 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Despite the well-documented negative consequences for children experiencing violence perpetrated bytheir fathers against their mothers, little is known about how characteristics of exposure to violence are related to child–father contact after parental separation. In this study, we (a) describe contact patterns between children and fathers after parental separation and (b) analyze links between patterns ofviolence and contact in a sample of child witnesses to intimate partner violence in Sweden. Information about 165 children (aged 3–13 years) was obtained from their mothers, who had been subjected to violence by the child’s father. In 60% of the cases, the parents had joint custody. Results suggest that children without contact with their father have witnessed more violence than children with contact. However, when they do have contact, previous violence against the mother does not correlate either with amount or type of child–father contact. Instead, high socioeconomic status and negotiation skills correlated positively with amount of contact.

Keyword
Child abuse; Child–father relationship; Consequences of family violence; Family violence
National Category
Social Work Psychology
Research subject
Social Work; Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-43145 (URN)10.1007/s10896-015-9673-2 (DOI)000351522300007 ()2-s2.0-84925538173 (Scopus ID)
Funder
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare
Available from: 2015-03-02 Created: 2015-03-02 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved
2. Contact with a violent father after parental separation: When is it beneficial for children’s well-being?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Contact with a violent father after parental separation: When is it beneficial for children’s well-being?
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-49859 (URN)
Available from: 2016-04-18 Created: 2016-04-18 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved
3. Descriptions of fathers’ care by children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV): relative neglect and children’s needs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Descriptions of fathers’ care by children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV): relative neglect and children’s needs
2014 (English)In: Child & Family Social Work, ISSN 1356-7500, E-ISSN 1365-2206, Vol. 19, no 2, 185-193 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The situation of children exposed to intimate partner violence (IPV) raises certain issues related to child neglect. Little is known about how children exposed to IPV perceive and describe their living conditions. This paper addresses this lack by analysing aspects of fathers’ care in descriptions given by children whose fathers have subjected the mothers to IPV. The analysis is based on qualitative interviews with 10 children aged 8–12 years. Three themes constitute the results. First, the fathers are not described by the children as engaged and responsible care providers. Second, in their general descriptions of how mothers and fathers fill complementary roles for the child, parenthood seems to mean in practice that the mother is the provider of (almost) everything the child may need. Third, the mere absence of violence seems to be judged ‘good-enough’ fathering in the children’s descriptions. Altogether, this leads to the conclusion that being exposed to IPV and believing that mothers are responsible for their welfare precludes children from viewing their fathers as responsible for their well-being. The limited utility for child welfare practice of a ‘child-based’ definition of neglect in cases of IPV is discussed, and alternatives are suggested.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell Publishing, 2014
Keyword
children, fathering, neglect, violence
National Category
Social Sciences Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-25512 (URN)10.1111/j.1365-2206.2012.00892.x (DOI)000331612900007 ()2-s2.0-84894234623 (Scopus ID)
Available from: 2012-08-29 Created: 2012-08-29 Last updated: 2016-04-18Bibliographically approved

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