Affective Awareness in Parenting of Fathers with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence

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Intimate Partner Violence, Substance Abuse, Parenting, Fathers

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Purpose: Few studies have examined the parenting of fathers with co-occurring Substance Abuse (SA) and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) problems. None have specifically interviewed men with these co-occurring issues using qualitative methods about their reflective functioning in relation to their children. This qualitative study was designed to provide evidence of the reflective capacity of fathers with co-occurring SA and IPV.

Approach: To assess this, men were asked to describe examples of negative emotions they experienced as parents and how they perceived their children responded to those emotions. Forty fathers with co-occurring SA and IPV were interviewed using the Revised Parent Development Interview. Interviews were coded for reflective functioning and for themes that emerged related to angry and guilty feelings these fathers experienced as parents.

Findings: Overall, fathers in the sample had a very limited capacity to think about the thoughts and feelings of their children. The desire to spend more time with their child and an inability to provide financially were two common themes. Anger toward the child’s mother for not providing adequate care and a focus on shielding the child from his anger were also reported frequently. Fathers did not report feelings of guilt related to their substance use or aggression in their relationships.

Originality: This paper is one of the first to explore reflective functioning of fathers with co-occurring IPV and SA. These findings are discussed in relation to their implications for intervention with fathers with co-occurring SA and IPV issues.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal on Advances in Dual Diagnosis, v. 5, issue 2, p. 74–85