Foca, Liliana (2018) The Effects of Family Relationships on Children of Prisoners – A Study of Romania. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Whilst extensive research has been conducted on prisoners’ families in the last twenty years, it has mainly focused on the effects of parental imprisonment on either the children, their non-imprisoned carers, or women partners of male prisoners.While research concludes that imprisonment has far-reaching effects on families in general, less is known about the impact of parental incarceration on family relationships and, more specifically, on how different relationships within the same family unit are affected.

The purpose of this study, which was conducted in Romania, is to explore the effects of family relationships on children of prisoners in particular. In doing so, children’s and mothers’ perspectives are analysed with respect to how fathers’ incarceration has affected them at the individual level. It then explores the impact of fathers’ imprisonment on the mother-child and mother-father relationships, highlighting their effects on children’s wellbeing. Parenting practices are also discussed in the context of parental imprisonment.

The findings drawn from 15 interviews with children and 16 interviews with mothers suggest that fathers’ incarceration affects not only children and mothers separately, but also the relationships within the family. The relationship between the child and his/her mother goes through changes in terms of emotional support, communication, trust and freedom (for teenagers), and household responsibilities. Mothers’ and children’s narratives on the marital relationship before and during incarceration reveal that parents’ relationships are mainly focused on the children’s wellbeing and the household and that children have positive views on parenthood. However, this narrative differences where where children and mothers were victimized by the incarcerated father prior to imprisonment.

The findings of the study are further explored using Bowlby’s (1969, 1973, 1980) attachment theory andBelsky’s (1984) model of competent parental functioning. The thesis concludes with ideas for future research, and implications for theory and policies.

Liliana Foca FINAL THESIS.PDF - Accepted Version
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