The Heroic Savior, the Jungle Guide and the Beacon Amidst a Fog of Uncertainty: Agency of Fathers in Prolonged Postdivorce Conflicts and Their Positioning of Children
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Divorce and Remarriage. 2022, 63 (7-8), 526-548. 10.1080/10502556.2023.2175556
This qualitative study aims to explore how fathers in prolonged post-divorce conflict construct their parenting agency and position their child in relation to their view of conflict-related threats. Eight divorced fathers were interviewed, with experience of, on average, seven years of high conflict after separation. A reflective thematic design supplemented with positioning theory was used to analyze the fathers’ responses. Drawing on positioning theory, the fathers’ agency emerged in the analyses from three dominant storylines or world manifestations of post-divorce dangers. Fathers either acted as (1) heroic saviors in a polluted realm storyline where they positioned their children as victims that need to be saved from the dangers of impurity, (2) jungle guides in the wild nature storyline where they positioned their children as trainees of survival skills to deal with intrusive events and ever present post-divorce dangers, or (3) beacons in a foggy moor storyline where they re-positioned their own behavior to follow a self-clarifying routine so that their children would experience life in a less ambivalent, foggy and insecure manner. We argue that researchers and therapists would benefit from knowledge that captures the moral underpinnings of fathers’ agency.
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