Social Work Research
Current gaps in the knowledge base concerning fathers who have maltreated a child affect social workers’ ability to provide effective services. The purpose of this study was to better understand the challenges and strengths of fathers related to child maltreatment, as well as the ways context, attitudes, and behaviors affect their parenting relationships. A traditional grounded theory study was conducted with 15 fathers involved in a treatment program for child maltreatment in the mid-Atlantic region. Fathers of various ages and ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds were included. In-depth, qualitative interviews were conducted. This article highlights the five elements of the developed theory titled Fathering in a Context of Challenge and Complexity. Results emphasize the importance of context for these fathers. Many of the fathers were both biological and social fathers. The majority experienced multipartnered fertility. Challenges included mental health issues, incarceration, and relationships with the children's mothers. Strengths of these fathers included the willingness to seek treatment and learn from experiences, and their active involvement in caretaking and play. Insights and suggestions for improving engagement and intervention are discussed for each of the five categories of the theory. (Author abstract)
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