This chapter examines the conflict between domestic violence advocates and father involvement programs, responsible fatherhood groups, and fathers' rights groups that promote father-child relationships in a variety of ways. Father involvement programs emphasize employment training, child support, and preparation for parenthood as strategies for increasing the emotional connection between fathers and children, while responsible fatherhood groups focus on father-child relationships as a strategy for alleviating social problems caused by weak family structures. Fathers' rights groups promote change within a system they view as biased in favor of the rights of mothers. Father involvement groups assert that domestic violence is caused by powerlessness, which can be resolved by obtaining a job and a positive role in the community. Responsible fatherhood groups attribute domestic violence to societal factors and the natural tendencies of men to be more aggressive than women. Fathers' rights groups deny that domestic violence is a significant problem and suggest that charges of spouse abuse are made by women to manipulate the legal system. The orientations of these fatherhood groups are in opposition to the beliefs of domestic violence advocates that violence is a choice, not a natural expression of anger, and that nonviolent behavior is a characteristic of positive parenting. Fatherhood programs should accept the reality of spouse abuse and its causes and work with domestic violence advocates to end behaviors that are not in the best interest of children. 32 references.
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