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Irish society, through its laws, institutions and civic organizations, promotes the primacy of the family, as the environment for the development of the loving, secure, supported child. Ireland, in keeping with most western societies, has witnessed a steady increase in family breakup since the 1960s. The impact of parental separation and family breakup on the child has been found, generally, to be very negative, with the exception of children in highly conflictual parental homes. Little attention has been paid to date, to the factors leading to loss of contact and to the views and experiences of absent parents, those who leave the family home and their children.
This study set out to explore the views of six absent parents, with particular reference to the key factors that lead to the loss of contact with their child, their understanding as to why this happened and from their personal perspective what they though may help other parents in similar circumstances stay involved in their child's lives.
This paper set out to explore though qualitative, semi-structured interviews, the factors that influenced a small sample of non-resident parents‟ loss of contact with their children post family breakup (separation or divorce). Six participants were interviewed about their experiences of the loss of contact with their child. For five of the six parents in the study, there was clear evidence of a strong bond with their child prior to family break up. The factors that impacted upon the loss of contact with their child, arose under three headings,
(1) Personal issues of the non-resident parent,
(2) Inter-parental relationship pre-separation, and
(3) External Factors. Across the six case studies, common themes were identified, and conclusions drawn from these very personal stories.
The study has the potential to benefit non-resident parents and their children, and to prevent the loss of such key relationships, particularly for the developing child.
Fulham, James (Sé): Lost relationships : An exploratory study of the factors associated with non-resident parents losing contact with their children following separation/divorce. Dublin, DIT, September 2010.