Manby, Martin (2014) Exploring the Emotional Impact of Parental Imprisonment on Children through Children’s, Parents’ and Carers’ Accounts. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This child-centred case study, which explored the impact of parental imprisonment on children, developed from the European COPING research project (2010 - 2012). Qualitative methods and a thematic analysis were used to review data from interviews with children, their parents/carers and imprisoned parents, in 22 families, mainly from the north of England. My findings confirmed that the quality of children’s relationships with their parent/carer and other relatives is the most important protective factors for them. Children’s resilience is frequently characterised by a two-way empathetic process, children being supported by their parents/carers and supporting them in return. Time is a crucial dimension in how children experience parental imprisonment. The experience of stigma was almost universal for families in this study. Children were cautious about sharing information about parental imprisonment. Paternal and maternal imprisonment impact differentially on children. Children seem more likely to experience emotional turmoil from the imprisonment of their same sex parent. Girls tend to be more resilient and boys more vulnerable. Schools are most often the agencies best placed to help children of prisoners.
Parents/carers frequently gained self-confidence from successfully fulfilling their responsibilities. They re-appraised their imprisoned partner’s role and status, and families developed either more open or more closed policies about handling parental imprisonment. Imprisoned parents can partially fulfil their parenting roles. Alongside the harm caused to children by parental imprisonment, a majority of families experienced some benefits.
Further research should explore the differential impact of parental imprisonment on girls and boys in more detail.

Final_thesis_-_MANBY.pdf - Submitted Version

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