Non-resident fatherhood: juggling time
Jenkins, JM 2006, 'Non-resident fatherhood: juggling time', Proceedings of the 2006 Australian Political Studies Association Conference, The University of Newcastle, Newcastle, 25-27 September.
Fathers have important influences on their children. However, spending time with children presents a considerable hurdle for many non-resident fathers. In many countries the increasing instances of divorce, de-facto separation, non-marital childbirth and incarceration are among many factors that have led to more and more fathers not sharing the same home address with their children. This paper reports on a qualitative study of non-resident fathers' leisure with their children. Within the study's parameters considerable emphasis has also been given to fathers' work and time use. The settings and context for non-resident fathers' contact with their children are described and the methodology comprising interviews with eighteen non-resident fathers is briefly explained. The fathers who participated were a diverse group. The research reveals that several non-resident fathers who participated in the study were prepared, and able, to make substantive changes to their work (contracted time) arrangements in order to facilitate contact and engagement with their children. It is also revealed that in the absence of formal workplace arrangements, a father's level of contact with his children may well be determined by little more than his friendship with his workplace supervisor or boss. Leisure, widely considered free time, takes many forms and is a vital, qualitative aspect of many non-resident fathers' engagement with their children. Nevertheless, for non-resident fathers to be fully-integrated in their children's lives they need to participate in a range of everyday activities that allow them to function as parents rather than as regular visitors. To develop and refine recent policies that support the goal of promoting fathers' involvement in the lives of children, it is essential to understand the extent and nature of fathers' current participation and involvement and how these are linked to the social, economic and demographic characteristics of fathers and their families.