Inside Looking Out: Jailed Fathers' Perceptions about Separation from Their Children

Inside Looking Out: Jailed Fathers' Perceptions about Separation from Their Children

Inside Looking Out: Jailed Fathers' Perceptions about Separation from Their Children

Inside Looking Out: Jailed Fathers' Perceptions about Separation from Their Children

Excerpt

The current study is the result of a question posed nearly 7 years ago in conversation with colleagues and my mentor. As we spoke about the plight of incarcerated mothers in this nation, I asked, “What about incarcerated fathers?” At the time, I was certain that there must be a good deal written on the topic, considering the sheer number of men that we incarcerate, over 1.7 million according to recent statistics (Beck, 2000). Remarkably, there was very little information available. Incarcerated fathers represent a very large and a very understudied group. Indeed, there are no accurate counts on the number of fathers who are incarcerated in our nation’s jails nor on the number of children they have. An important question would seem to be why incarcerated fathers have been neglected in research.

In our culture, the mother has long been considered the most important individual in a child’s life. As the primary child-rearing parent, she is responsible for “shaping” her children. Mothers are the necessary parents. Fathers have traditionally been allocated a supporting role in this process, and, it may be argued, are viewed by some as dispensable. The focus on the critical role the mother plays in her child’s development has a long history. Indeed, John Bowlby, (1952) a psychoanalyst and leading expert on attachment argued that the mother-child relationship was the most important relationship during the child’s formative years. Fathers were seen as necessary only . . .

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