Practice implications

The need for a theoretical framework

A clear, theoretical framework is needed for assessing fathering. When assessing parenting in general, practitioners are often unclear about precisely what they are measuring or attempting to assess. This is particularly the case of fathers and this review argues strongly for a sophisticated theoretical framework to underpin such assessments if they are to do justice to the complexity of family life.

Don’t make assumptions

It is easy to make assumptions about the non-involvement of fathers, particularly if they do not live with the children. This can lead to fathers not being sufficiently included in assessments which can either deny recognition of the man’s role or, conversely, lead to an unreasonable focus or even heap blame on the mother.

Counter negative perceptions

In many acute cases men will have been responsible for abuse and violence. Indeed, any discussion of the role of fathers needs to be predicated on a recognition of the continuing reality of women’s oppression. However, Lewis and Lamb reported on several studies that revealed negative and general perceptions of men which could exclude them from services.

Make services male-friendly

There has been an attempt to make some services “men friendly”. At times this can be done in a rather crass way with a focus on “male activities” used, such as those related to sport. However, the message from the studies is that service design should be as subtle and sophisticated as the role of fathers itself.




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