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Entries in family research (5)


International Journal for Family Research and Policy

A new academic journal of family research and policy has just been published by the University of York, Ontario, Canada.

The journal, edited by Professor Robert Kenedy, intends to be an annual publication. Its editorial board is drawn from Canada, the USA, England, Ireland, Israel and Australia 

It states it will examine "the transformation of the family as well as considering historical ideations and the status of the family in various cultures and societies. Children, parenting, and related issues are the focal point of this journal in order to follow the various shifts the family has taken especially over the last 40 years."

The inaugural issue includes an article by Professor Dutton of of the University of British Columbia examining "the generic bias against males ... in custody disputes ..." based on preconceptions about domestic abuse.

In Fathers and Families: A cultural enquiry, Katherine K Young and Paul Nathanson argue "not only that children need fathers but also that men need fatherhood as the one remaining source of a healthy collective identity."

The Journal can be found at:  http://ijfrp.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/ijfrp/issue/view/1


The value of shared parenting for daughters

Dr Linda NeilsenThis summary of research put together by Dr Linda Neilsen is a valuable look at the benefits of father daughter contact after separation, countering the arguments made to frustrate ongoing involvement. Although relating to daughters, most of the points could also be made for sons.  It highlights the massive damage that courts can cause if they needlessly block father-child contact.

The paper's summary stresses two important messages:

"First, those fathers who spend plenty of time with their daughters after the divorce have the greatest chance of creating and maintaining a loving, meaningful, lifelong relationship. Especially when they live with their fathers for a substantial part of the year, these daughters are the most likely to reap the lifelong benefits of having been well fathered."

"Second, an increasing number of parents are sharing the parenting more equally after their divorce-a pivotal step toward strengthening father-daughter relationships. Hopefully as the research on divorced fathers and their daughters becomes more widely disseminated, more families and more professionals who work with divorcing parents will foster and respect this bond."

Thanks to Yuri Joakimidis for alerting us to this.


Fathers are sidelined by parenting programmes

Professor Catherine Panter-BrickA new world-wide study has identified key barriers to engaging fathers in parenting support programmes, despite the crucial importance of fathers. Catherine Panter-Brick and other authors reach this conclusion in a new paper published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry.

They conclude that despite robust evidence of fathers’ impact on children and mothers, engaging with fathers is one of the least well-explored and articulated aspects of parenting interventions.

Their study identified 199 publications that presented evidence on father participation and impact in parenting interventions. With some notable exceptions, few interventions separate out ‘father’ or ‘couple’ effects in their evaluation, mostly looking only at the mother and child.

Some parenting programmes do manage to invlove fathers, and the study quotes examples of good practice from the USA, Niger, Turkey, and Brazil.

Having looked at a range of reasons why fathers are missed out, the researchers go on to suggest how the design, delivery and evaluation of parenting support programmes could be radically changed to include fathers.


Listening to children research

A Sunday Herald article has highlighted certain findings from a research study on children and young people involved in court cases about contact.

It suggests that 8% of children in such cases are compelled to visit or stay with a parent who is alleged to have committed domestic abuse.

Families Need Fathers Scotland agrees that improvements can be made in the way contact and residence cases are handled in the family courts and that children (and parents) need to be protected from abuse.

But the reporting about this study suggests that many children are being forced to see abusive parents and that fathers are more likely to be listened to than mothers. 

Most fathers who contact Families Need Fathers Scotland would disagree strongly that conclusion about bias against mothers.

There are occasions when the stated views of children about one parent - either father or mother - need to be considered carefully and weighed against other information, and we would suggest that such cases require particular expertise. 

If a child who has previously have a close relationship with both parents appears to be rejecting one parent without clear reasons then questions need to be asked.

Talking to children and taking their views into account is important but children shouldn't be the only decision makers in contact disputes.  Children should not be put in the position of choosing between parents in court, no more than they should decide whether or not to go to school.

As well as finding out the views of children in such cases, the Sheriff also has to consider whether allegations of domestic violence or child abuse can be substantiated.

As Lady Hale commented in a recent Supreme Court judgement: "No child should be brought up to believe that she has been abused if in fact she has not, any more than any child should be persuaded by the adult world that she has not been abused when in fact she has."

Sheriffs therefore have the difficult job of sorting out fact from fiction, alongside trying to consider the views of children.


About Changing Families

About Families is a lottery funded project about putting research evidence into action on various apects of family life in Scotland.  Their latest topic report on how families can be supported both together and apart in relation to separation and divorce has just been published.

It provides a useful roundup of recent research evidence, which also shows up some gaps such as the lack of information about families affected by disability.

While the overall study is very useful in raising the need for more support for parents, FNF Scotland does have concerns about one comment in the section on "non-resident parents".

It raises the question:  "how can services support parents in understanding and adapting to their new roles as primary care-giver or non-resident parent?"

We would suggest that shared or collaborative parenting is a way of escaping from these markedly unequal roles.   Shared parenting does not necessarily mean a 50:50 split in time or residence, but it does mean that both parents are significantly involved in care giving and decision making.

About Families is a partnership between the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, Parenting across Scotland and Capability Scotland.