NON-OFFENDING FATHERS AS CAREGIVERS IN THE AFTERMATH OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE DISCLOSURE: APPLYING A HISTORICAL, ATTACHMENT AND CASE STUDY LENS
Social and Behavioral Sciences
Changing gender roles and caretaking roles in the family have resulted in greater involvement of fathers in the day-to-day care of their children (Parker & Livingston, 2017). As a result, there is a need to better understand the nature of father-child relationships on many levels and within the context of multiple circumstances. One specific example is the role of non-offending fathers in the care of children after child sexual abuse disclosure. Employing attachment theory as a theoretical framework, this two-paper dissertation examines the experiences of fathers as caregivers. The first paper reviews the evolution of paternal roles in the United States, documenting ways in which cultural and economic pressures of fathering have been interconnected with the development and implementation of attachment theory, child welfare policy, and direct clinical practice. Building on the discussion of paternal roles, the second paper offers a case study of a non-offending father’s experience in parenting his child after the disclosure of sexual abuse. Findings from this case study identify the protective support a father offers, the barriers and resources of support he may experience, and the importance of a father’s secure attachment relationship with his child after the disclosure of child sexual abuse. This two paper dissertation is meant to serve as a critical beginning step in exploring the role of fathers in the care and healing of their children. Implications for social work practice include enhanced acknowledgement, engagement, intervention and prevention strategies that incorporate fathers effectively, better utilizing fathers as allies in the overall care of their children.
Rebecca Bolen, PhD