Staying Attached: Fathers and Children in Troubled Times

Author(s) : Gill Gorell Barnes

Part of The Systemic Thinking and Practice Series - more in this series

Staying Attached: Fathers and Children in Troubled Times

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This book is about the changing social contexts for fathering in the United Kingdom since the end of the Second World War, and the social moves from patriarchal fatherhood to multiple ways of doing 'dad'. The book questions why fathers have been marginalised by therapists working with children and families. It proposes that theories of psychotherapy, including attachment theory, have failed to take father love for their children, and the reality of changing social fatherhoods, sufficiently into account, consequently affecting related practice. Different contemporary family structures and multiple variations of relationship between fathers and children are considered.

Many fathers, brought up within earlier patriarchal frameworks for viewing fatherhood are still trying to exercise these within contexts of rapid change in expectations of men as fathers. They may find themselves in troubled and oppositional relations with partners and oftern children. Examples are given for thinking abour fathers in different relationship transitions, including 'non-live-in' fatherhoods, re-entering children's lives after long absences, fathering following acrimonious divorce, and a range of social fatherhoods. Depression and mental illness are addressed. Work developed with fathers to keep them connected to their children, both in and out of the family court, is described and explored.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘At last! A book about fathers and fathering – one that both captures and explores the attachment and developmental significance of our relationships with our fathers across the life span. It is not often that we read a book written with such depth of compassion and wisdom, and a long commitment to assisting fathers and their children. This is a book that persuades fathers of their importance to their families.’
? Arlene Vetere, professor of family therapy and systemic practice, VID Specialized University, Oslo

‘Based on meticulous research and vast clinical experience, this welcome contribution helps therapists and parents to connect with fathers, be they at the centre, on the margins or seemingly “outside” their families. Interwoven with a highly pertinent account of her own
experiences, both personal and professional, the author charts cultural and societal changes and their impact on fathers and their roles, illustrated by many clinical examples. Particularly impressive is the sensitive and groundbreaking clinical work with estranged or “alienated” fathers, showing how their relationships with their children move through troubled times but can improve. A must-read for therapists and parents alike – and above all for fathers whose voices need to be heard by everyone.’
? Eia Asen, consultant psychiatrist and systemic psychotherapist, Anna Freud Centre and University College London

‘When you have finished reading this book, read it again! There is something for everyone interested in learning about and working with fathers and families: research about how fathers are positioned; political perspectives; theoretical frameworks; and immensely helpful examples from practice. Reading this book informed and stretched me in a number of ways. It spoke to me simultaneously both as a father and a clinician.’
? John Burnham, consultant family and systemic psychotherapist and head of systemic training, Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust

‘This timely book draws on a wealth of personal and professional experience to offer a thoughtful and compassionate perspective on dilemmas of contemporary fathering. It is an invaluable resource for all those working with men, women, and families.’
? Elsa Jones, clinical psychologist and systemic psychotherapist, trainer, and consultant

'The book is very easy to read and to take in but, at the same time, provides a wealth of understanding and clinical skills in the various challenges of working with fathers and children in troubled times. The author introduces her own personal background and personal experiences in intriguing ways as well as dealing with the clinical interactions, and the reflections provided on the work are particularly good. Whilst clearly she has used the lens of attachment theory as an important guide throughout the work she emphasizes that this is not the only perspective that is needed. An outstandingly good book that is also an outstandingly good read.'
?Professor Sir Michael Rutter, Professor of Developmental Psychopathology at Kings College, London

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