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Separated fathers : generativity, grief, and mental health

McKeering, Helen Margaret (2007) Separated fathers : generativity, grief, and mental health. Masters by Research thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

Mental health disorders are highest among adults who are separated and divorced, with 23% of men in this group reporting a mental illness. Separated men are more likely to commit suicide compared with married men. In Australia, there are over 53,100 divorces per annum, involving almost 50,000 children. To date, little research has been conducted on the mental health of separated men who are fathers.

Aims: Using a pilot qualitative study, parenting and health issues reported by 23 south-east Queensland separated fathers were examined. The pilot study informed the selection of correlates and measurements for the quantitative study. The aims of the subsequent quantitative study of 80 Queensland separated fathers were to examine: (1) how postseparation stressors, conflict with the ex-partner, access to children, and generativity impact on fathers' grief; and (2) how grief impacts on the mental health of separated fathers.

Model: Variables correlating with separated fathers' grief and mental health were entered into the health model proposed by Bartholomew, Parcel, and Kok (1995). Generativity (caring for others and providing support for the next generation) was a key construct in this research.

Results: Results of grief analyses, as measured by the Separated Fathers Grief Scale, indicated that the more generative a separated father, and the fewer and less intense the stressors in his life, the less his grief. A grieving father's access to his children and his perception of his financial insecurity correlated with alcohol abuse, conflict with his expartner and stressors in his life. Parenting concerns were the predominant factor affecting conflict with the ex-partner and stressors for separated fathers. Results indicate that a generative father with a positive perception of his financial security and few stressors had low levels of depression anxiety and stress, unless he was unable to resolve his grief over separation from his children.

Implications for Public Health: For separated fathers, findings that increased generativity serves as a preventive for grief and mental health problems, support the potential benefit of educational programs utilising an adult developmental approach. Social and legislative changes are required to ensure that: fathering is given equal importance to mothering; consensual rather than adversarial legal processes are promoted; and equitable maintenance and financial planning strategies are promoted to increase the financial security of all separated parents and their children.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16501
Item Type: QUT Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor: Newman, Beth& Pakenham, Ken
Keywords: separated fathers, generativity, stressors, conflict, access, grief, depression, mental health
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Department: Faculty of Health
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Helen Margaret McKeering
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 14:04
Last Modified: 29 Oct 2011 05:48

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