Better safe than sorry? Quantitative and qualitative aspects of child-father relationship after parental separation in cases involving intimate partner violence
Sammanfattning: 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.
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