New survey on swedish fathers' experiences of separation
Separations are often a crisis period for both adults and children, as well as a risk situation for destructive conflicts between parents and for domestic violence. A new survey by IPSOS, commissioned by the organization MÄN, shows that half of the separated fathers experienced the separation as difficult or very difficult, but few received information about support.
– The lack of support risks negatively affecting the children, says Shahab Ahmadian, chairperson of MÄN.
Research shows that men generally have weaker social networks, as many men abandon friendships when they start a family. This can make fathers more vulnerable in crisis situations as they lack someone close to turn to.
The survey Pappors upplevelser av att separera (Fathers' experiences of separation) conducted with support from the General Heritage Fund, maps out the support available for separated fathers today and how fathers use the available support. Sixty percent of the surveyed fathers respond that they feel worse after the separation, and for a third, their well-being deteriorated significantly. However, only two out of ten fathers sought support on their own initiative. Fathers talk about conflicts, mental health issues, financial concerns, and lack of support during separations.
Violence can escalate during separations
The results of the survey show that fathers are challenging to reach, and many also do not know where to turn for support for their mental health issues that often arise during a separation, which ultimately risks negatively impacting the children.
– Offering support to fathers would help both families in the acute crisis, and it can also lead to preventing violence. Through research, we know that violence often begins or escalates in connection with separations, says Jens Karberg, project manager for MÄN's project Pappor i separation (Fathers in separation).
Cooperation around parenthood deteriorates
The survey reveals that one in three fathers who separated felt that cooperation around parenthood worked poorly in the first six months after the separation. Among those who separated more than five years ago, one-fifth still perceive cooperation as poor today. Eight out of ten fathers who separated had conflicts with their former partners at the time of separation, a quarter had many or very many conflicts. The conflicts mainly concerned finances (41%), things that happened before the separation (33%), property division (32%), and planning (27%).
– Getting support during separation provides increased opportunities for parents to be solution-focused and keep the child's best interests in mind. Constructive separations lay a good foundation for equal parenthood and are beneficial for both parents and children, says Jens Karberg.
Excerpts from the survey:
Six out of ten fathers in the survey felt that their well-being deteriorated – for a third, it deteriorated significantly. A quarter of the fathers who underwent separation also assessed it as very difficult.
Particularly challenging during separation were conflicts with the ex-partner (38%), mental health issues (38%), and finances (35%).
One in three fathers who separated felt that cooperation around parenthood worked poorly in the first six months after the separation. Even among those who separated more than 5 years ago, one-fifth still perceive cooperation as poor today.
Eight out of ten fathers who separated had conflicts with their former partner at the time of separation – a quarter had many or very many conflicts. The conflicts mainly concerned finances (41%), things that happened before the separation (33%), property division (32%), and planning (27%).
Six out of ten fathers had received information about support in their parenthood earlier – but only two out of ten received any information about support during their separation.
Half of the separated fathers wished for support during their separation – but only one-fifth sought support. The most common support fathers have sought is professional help, such as counseling.
The biggest barrier to seeking support is not knowing where to turn (53%) or lacking the energy (43%).
Among those who sought support, a quarter still believe that individuals with similar experiences or father groups would have been more helpful. Among those who wished for support but did not seek it, four out of ten believe that father groups would have suited them.
The full survey is available here (only in swedish).