The Good, the Bad, and the Invisible Father: A Phenomenological Study of Fatherhood in Men With Substance Use Disorder.

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Söderström, Kerstin.
Skårderud, Finn.
Resource Type
Journal Article

Parental substance abuse undermines caregiving competency and increases the likelihood of abuse and neglect of children. Both research and clinical interventions focus disproportionally on maternal substance abuse, whereas the role of fathers with addictions is largely ignored. The study used a qualitative design to investigate fatherhood from the perspective of men with a substance addiction. Eight fathers in residential rehabilitation treatment programs participated in focus group discussions. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used to identify three figures of fatherhood: The good father, the bad father, and the invisible father. The three constructs are discussed in relation to Western trends and discourses of fathering and implications for childcare. Gender expectations and the father's right to participate on equal terms as the mother in the child's life are discussed against the notion of the best interest of the child. Conclusion: The drug-problem, gender expectations, couples conflicts, and professional practices related to child protection issues all influence these men's active participation as fathers. The fathering role in at-risk populations and the issue of co-parenting needs more attention in research, clinical interventions, and service programs. Implications for clinical practice are discussed. (Author abstract)

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