Child and Family Social Work
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. (Author abstract)
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