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Lecture 32 Divorce on fathers, divorce on kids & women.docx

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McMaster University
Sandra Colavecchia

1 Sociology 2U06: Family Sociology Feb. 9 2012 Lecture 32: Divorce on fathers, divorce on kids & women Topics: - Terry Arendell on Fathers and Divorce - Chapter 8 of Baker – woo and chimo - Chapter 32 of Fox – ferstenberg and cherlin Terry Arendell (1992) - Fathers and divorce - Addresses why so many fathers become absent post-divorce o Problematic to view these men as uncaring/unfeeling/villains - Wanted to understand this process from the perspective of the men - Did in depth interviews with 75 divorced new york fathers o Interviewed men only, so we don’t know the women’s perspective - Found that these men cared about their kids but there were a lot of factors leading them to become absent o This men faded from their kids lives – made a conscious decision to become absent in order to try to retain power and to deal with their emotions  Felt tremendous anger at their situations and at their ex-wives – absence was a way to handle that anger and distance themselves from all of those overwhelming feelings  Including feelings of sadness and loss o Men unable to process these kinds of feelings – socialized differently than women – taught to channel feelings into anger rather than work through the sadness/loss in a more healthy way  Felt judicial system had violated their rights as a father  Did not see how they themselves participated in perpetuating ongoing conflict and antagonisms  Did not hold themselves accountable  Felt victimized by wives and by legal system  Rights to kids and to income were violated  Being absent helped them to control all of these emotions o Majority of these men shared the same explanations (stated above)  Author called this participation in a masculinist discourse of divorce o Felt that they were expected to have a normal relationship under normal conditions  Were immersed in their kids’ lives when they lived at home with them – now the distance is working against them and still expected to be just as involved o Most of these men were not the primary caregivers during the marriage 2  Relationship with kids was facilitated thru the wives  After the divorce the ex-wives did not facilitated  Felt that they were less a part of the family o Major conflict with the ex-wives led to anger – unable to cope, viewed becoming an absent father as the only way to overcome this conflict and anger o Many of these men had control issues  Used money and threatened litigation to try to continue to control their wives o About half of the men had experienced interference from their ex-wives when it came to their ability to meet their kids  Hindrance o Felt this was a power struggle they were losing  Wives had all the power o Deep resentment o Right to earn a decent standard of living was violated by paying child support  A lot of these men thought the money would be wasted by their ex-wives instead of going to the kids o Saw only absent fathers around them  Didn’t have a point of comparison and this allowed them to further rationalize their beh Divorce - Research that doesn’t consider both before and after effects is methodically flawed - Chapter 32: Prospective (following kids over time) psychological study – late 1960s California by Block, Block and Gjerde o DOES consider both before and after effects o Had data on this kids before the parents got divorced  Adjustment, beh, personality o Very young kids – 3 years o Findings:  Boys whose parents did eventually divorce had beh problems before the divorce  If we didn’t have the before data, might just attribute the problematic beh to the divorce  But because we have this data – hypothesize that these kids have these beh issues at such a young age because they are being exposed to a high degree of conflict  In these cases – conflict leads to beh issues, not divorce leading to beh issues  Examined both short term effects and long term effects of divorce  Short term o First year or two is really difficult period of transition or adjustment – crisis period 3  Kids need emo support and needs of routine  Most single parents can’t meet these – they have emo issues and lack of time as they are more employed than pre-divorce - Contradictory conclusions
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