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Fathers as co-parents: how non-resident fathers construe family situations after divorce or separation

Wilson, Graeme Barnetson (2003) Fathers as co-parents: how non-resident fathers construe family situations after divorce or separation. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

A model of the co-parental role based on personal construct theory is described, with inter-parental conflict explained in terms of the constructivist concept of hostility. Four unstructured group interviews, on the theme of the experience of separated parenthood, were conducted with separated fathers (n=14) from throughout Strathclyde. Thematic analysis of the results suggests that while participants recognised the importance of maintaining relations with the other parent, that relationship was seen as adversarial, and fathers frequently feel controlled or powerless; different strategies for coping with this control emerged. From common post-separation parenting experiences recounted by the participants, situational elements were developed for a series of repertory grid interviews, intended to identify and examine the co-parental role construct system. Grids were administered, at three points over a year, to a cohort of separated, non-resident fathers from Strathclyde (n=17) still in contact with their children. The results were analysed using construct content categories developed for this research, inter-element distance measures, and asymmetric coefficients to assess ordinal relationships between constructs. Support was found for the model of a co-parental role covering interactions with children and their mothers. Perceptions of parity in parents' flexibility regarding contact arrangements were associated with recent experience, particularly ongoing disputes over contact allocation, and reflect strategies for dealing with being controlled. Conflict emerges as having distinct and multiple implications for separated non-resident fathers, whose responses to change were also consistent with the constructivist conception of hostility. One strategy for dealing with this may be a gradual distancing from the role of co-parent, in line with recent theories of core construing. These findings are discussed along with strengths and limitations of this research; implications for policy, practice and future research are outlined.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Supervisor's Name: Gillies, Dr John and Mayes, Dr Gillian M.
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Mr Robbie J. Ireland
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-1131
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:34
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/1131

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