Non‐resident fathers' leisure with their children

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Publication details

Jenkins, JM & Lyons, K 2006, 'Non‐resident fathers' leisure with their children', Leisure Studies, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 219-232.

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Increasing instances of divorce, de‐facto separation and non‐marital childbirth in westernised states have led to growing numbers of fathers living separately from their children. In Australia these non‐resident fathers now number approximately 400,000. Despite increasing evidence that fathers can be central to their children’s education, health and wellbeing, and that for many non‐resident fathers contact with their children is important and highly desirable but inadequate, research on non‐resident fathers, fatherhood and family as aspects of contemporary western society is lacking. In particular, few investigators have explored the qualitative dimensions of non‐resident parent–child contact and the role of leisure within this. This paper establishes parameters for future investigation into the levels, nature, meanings and impacts of leisure involving non‐resident fathers and their children. Drawing on an international literature and with particular emphasis on the Australian context, it critically analyses the context of non‐resident fathers’ leisure with their children. It examines the problematic terms of ‘father’ and ‘non‐resident father’, describes the models of contact that occur between non‐resident fathers and their children, and summarises the factors affecting that contact. The paper then turns to research into family and leisure, drawing attention to the salience of leisure in non‐resident parenting while also highlighting the lack of substantive research into this area. Particular attention is paid to the trivialising of ‘leisure’ as a parenting activity in this context, and the underplaying of the positive qualities that leisure‐based interaction may contribute. The paper concludes by suggesting initial directions for research into the role of leisure within the relationship that non‐resident parents have with their children.

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