This book is about the changing social contexts for fathering in the United Kingdom since the end of the Second World War, and the social moves from patriarchal fatherhood to multiple ways of doing 'dad'. The book questions why fathers have been marginalised by therapists working with children and families. It proposes that theories of psychotherapy, including attachment theory, have failed to take father love for their children, and the reality of changing social fatherhoods, sufficiently into account, consequently affecting related practice. Different contemporary family structures and multiple variations of relationship between fathers and children are considered.
Many fathers, brought up within earlier patriarchal frameworks for viewing fatherhood are still trying to exercise these within contexts of rapid change in expectations of men as fathers. They may find themselves in troubled and oppositional relations with partners and oftern children. Examples are given for thinking abour fathers in different relationship transitions, including 'non-live-in' fatherhoods, re-entering children's lives after long absences, fathering following acrimonious divorce, and a range of social fatherhoods. Depression and mental illness are addressed. Work developed with fathers to keep them connected to their children, both in and out of the family court, is described and explored.
Reviews and Endorsements:
"At last! A book about fathers and fathering – one that both captures and explores the attachment and developmental significance of our relationships with our fathers across the life span. It is not often that we read a book written with such depth of compassion and wisdom, and a long commitment to assisting fathers and their children. This is a book that persuades fathers of their importance to their families."
- Arlene Vetere, professor of family therapy and systemic practice, VID Specialized University, Oslo
"Based on meticulous research and vast clinical experience, this welcome contribution helps therapists and parents to connect with fathers, be they at the centre, on the margins or seemingly “outside” their families. Interwoven with a highly pertinent account of her own experiences, both personal and professional, the author charts cultural and societal changes and their impact on fathers and their roles, illustrated by many clinical examples. Particularly impressive is the sensitive and groundbreaking clinical work with estranged or “alienated” fathers, showing how their relationships with their children move through troubled times but can improve. A must-read for therapists and parents alike – and above all for fathers whose voices need to be heard by everyone."
- Eia Asen, consultant psychiatrist and systemic psychotherapist , Anna Freud Centre and University College London
"When you have finished reading this book, read it again! There is something for everyone interested in learning about and working with fathers and families: research about how fathers are positioned; political perspectives; theoretical frameworks; and immensely helpful examples from practice. Reading this book informed and stretched me in a number of ways. It spoke to me simultaneously both as a father and a clinician."
- John Burnham, consultant family and systemic psychotherapist and head of systemic training , Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust
"This timely book draws on a wealth of personal and professional experience to offer a thoughtful and compassionate perspective on dilemmas of contemporary fathering. It is an invaluable resource for all those working with men, women, and families."
- Elsa Jones, clinical psychologist and systemic psychotherapist, trainer, and consultant
Table of Contents:
About the Author
Series Editors’ Foreword
Preface by Sebastian Kraemer
Introduction: Speaking up for fathers
1) The changing social context for fathering in the United Kingdom in my lifetime: the family and fathers remembered following the Second World War
2) Attachment theory, child development research, and mothers’ and fathers’ connections with children in everyday life
3) Becoming a father in non-live-in fatherhoods
4) Getting connected after a long absence—fathers re-entering their children’s lives: conflicts of interest, belief, and attachment
5) Fathers, children, and conflicts in family arrangements following divorce
6) Processes that alienate one part of the family from another
7) Fathers, stepfathers, and complex families
8) Violence in couple and family systems: anxious attachment and disorganised love, power, and control
9) Working with couples: developing skills in managing unregulated emotion
10) Working with fathers within family court proceedings: disorganised attachments and violent outcomes
11) Mental illness, fathers, and families
12) Reconciliation and forgiveness
About the Author:
Gill Gorell Barnes works as a family, marital, and couple therapist in private practice and consults to other therapists of different modalities. For ten years she worked as Consultant to Family Court Proceedings in the UK Family Courts, both as therapist and expert witness. She has written a book on family life in transition following divorce, as well as a book on working with children and parents and a research project on step-families. She has also written a number of publications that focus on working with highly acrimonious post-divorce relationships.