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Research studentship on father-child relationships and children’s well-being

Glasgow University Institute for Health and Wellbeing is seeking applications to undertake a PhD studentships on father-child relationships.

Research on the role of fathers in children’s socialisation has mainly focused on the benefits of father’s direct engagement in parenting activities in early childhood, including routine care and play.  Much less is known about the importance of paternal emotional support for the child (warmth and responsiveness), highlighted in a re-conceptualisation of father involvement .  Given increasing numbers of children with non-resident biological fathers and/or a resident social father, it is particularly important to investigate facilitators and benefits of supportive father-child relationships in non-traditional family types.

This PhD project would use data from around 3,000 10-12 year old children and their parents in the Growing Up in Scotland study.  It would involve a statistical analysis of the factors promoting supportive father-child relationships and other aspects of father involvement, as well as the benefits of involvement for children’s socio-emotional adjustment, among different family types.

It is expected that the study will also have a qualitative component, collecting data from a sub sample of fathers in order to supplement the results of the statistical analysis.  For example, it may focus on men who report low engagement with their children, exploring how they reflect on how themselves were parented as a context for their own parenting behaviour.


Courts should resolve contact cases in weeks not years 

Lord GlennieAn appeal judgement from the Court of Session expresses strong concern about the way child contact cases are handled in Scottish courts.

In commenting on the length of time taken to make a contact order in the case at appeal, Lord Glennie states:

"The time taken to resolve disputes about contact should be measured not in years but in weeks or, at most, months.  We recognise that there may be subsequent applications to vary contact arrangements, but the initial decision should be capable of being made, following a short well-organised evidential hearing, within this time-frame."

The child contact action in this particular case took from January 2010 to October 2013 to reach a judgement.  Even when contact was ordered by the court it was sporadic and it is currently more than a year since the father has seen his son.

Delays in child contact cases in Scottish Courts have been criticised before, including by the Supreme Court in NJDB v JEG in 2012, and in the Civil Justice Review. 

Families Need Fathers Scotland knows of a significant number of other Scottish contact cases which have spent years in courtNow that we have such a clear and forthright statement of aims by judges in Scotland's highest court, we will be pressing the judiciary and the Scottish Government to implement changes which will translate these aims into reality.

The father in this case is lodging a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that this failure to ensure contact is in breach of his human rights under article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.  Recent cases such as Malec v Poland and Moog v Germany have upheld such complaints and fined the respondent states.

The main part of this judgement concerned the mother's successful appeal against her prison sentence for contempt of court because a contact order was not carried out.  This also raises issues about how courts should enforce child contact orders.  FNF Scotland and other stakeholders will be taking part in a meeting later this month called by Scottish Government to discuss how such orders should be enforced.


Child health problems caused by court decisions

Dr VezzettiA wide-ranging review paper by Dr Vittorio Vezzetti published in Health Psychology Open documents the children's health problems that can result from inappropriate family court decisions.  Parental loss during parental separation can affect the wellbeing and health of young children.

His study looks at the impact of the traumatic experience of parental separation, which may only become apparent after 10, 20 or 30 years.  More than 10 million children in Europe are affected by parental separation.

After considering evidence from a wide range of international peer-reviewed studies, Dr Vezzetti considers how various European and United States legislatures make shared parenting decisions, concluding that it is necessary for the judges to take more account of the health impact on children of reducing or ending contact with one parent.


Parent Survival Guide magazine

PSG, a new online magazine covering various aspects of parental alienation is being published by Simply Parent organisation.  Contributors include Jennifer Harman, co-author of the Parents Acting Badly book.

The first issue includes articles about the psychological classification of parental alienation in the DSM system, personal stories such as Ginger Gentile's experience of growing up and forgiving her father, personal support and self help tips and news of how parental alienation is being countered acrodd the world.  This issue is mainly North American in content, but they aspire to international coverage.

The first 500 people to join Simply Parent will automatically be deemed Patrons, in appreciation of their support right out of the gate, and receive the inaugural issue of PSG Magazine to enjoy over the holidays.  The non-profit organisation will be then be supported through donations.


Yellow ribbon christmas tree for those who won't see their children

A christmas tree has been placed at the Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh's Royal Mile as a small symbol for parents who are prevented from seeing their children at Christmas.

Tim Porteus, himself a well-known storyteller., has organised this as a way of recognising those for whom Christmas is a difficult and emotional time due to family separation.  Fathers can tie a yellow ribbon to the tree with a message to their children. to show that they are missed but not forgotten.

Although the FNF Scotland office is closed until January 4th, anyone wanting to talk to the organisation can ring the 0131 557 2440 number to find out which member of staff is available by mobile phone during the holiday period. 

We wish all separated parents well for 2017.