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Family troubles?Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people$
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Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Carol-Ann Hooper, and Val Gillies

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447304432

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447304432.001.0001

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Working with fathers: risk or resource?

Working with fathers: risk or resource?

(p.315) Chapter Twenty-Five Working with fathers: risk or resource?
Family troubles?

Brid Featherstone

Policy Press

The continuing reality of a gendered division of labour in parenting, and its taken-for-granted nature by services, means that women generally still play the central role in negotiating with services on behalf of children. However in Anglophone countries, there have been growing efforts to engage fathers in welfare and education services and to promote their involvement with their children (alongside more limited attention to paternity and parental leave entitlements and the public provision of child care). Such developments emphasise fathers’ role as resources for their children, while in other contexts, primarily child protection, fathers either remain invisible or are constructed largely as risks. This chapter charts these developments, highlighting first, the complexities of contemporary family life and the fragmentation of fathering, and the reality of violence, abuse and the continued care-giving role of mothers, all of which tend to be ignored in ‘fathers-as-resource’ developments; and second, increasing concerns both about unrealistic expectations of mothers where fathers are not engaged and about constructing fathers only as risks in the child protection arena, where more holistic, flexible and responsive approaches are beginning to emerge, although they remain controversial.

Keywords:   Family life, Fathers, Children, Risks, Resources, Mothers

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