The nature of the contribution that fathers make to families is the subject of intense debate by both academics and policymakers. Contact between non-resident fathers and their children has been promoted by government and the courts, but remains difficult to achieve. This paper reports on interview data collected from fathers, mothers and their adolescent children in intact families on the perceptions of fathering practices and the factors that influence them. In addition, the nature and extent of fathers’ involvement with their children is explored in relation to the problem of ‘boundary setting’.\ud \ud While the traditional, rather distant, breadwinning father has disappeared, there is no evidence from this study of a shift towards the kind of father who takes equal day-to-day responsibility for his children. Rather, the changes in the nature of fathers’ involvement with their children are more subtle, relying to a large extent on an appreciation of the importance of ‘passive care’ and of mediation by mothers. We suggest that these findings have important implications for what might be expected by and of fathers when relationships break-up, and for the development of policies to encourage father involvement
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