The challenge of maintaining the fathering role after divorce: Overcoming shame Book Chapter

Rothe, EM. (2013). The challenge of maintaining the fathering role after divorce: Overcoming shame . 94-101.

cited authors

  • Rothe, EM



  • Disrupted relationships between father and child have a wrenching poignancy for both members of the dyad, and making peace with this state of affairs may be a lifelong task for the child. Hence, thinking about the role of the father and of ways of preserving something positive from that relationship for the child has often taken first and and urgent attention (including mine) when parents part. Stepfathers have gotten short shrift. Yet in my own work with children who have suffered the loss of a parent either through death or divorce, I have been impressed with the breadth of the constructive as well as potentially destructive role the stepfather can have (Tessman, this volume). I would like to sketch out some internal aspects of the meaning of stepfathers, and then to comment briefly on several special components of the stepfathering process. The special components I will refer to, or illustrate with clinical fragments, include (1) helping the child grieve; (2) being available as a new identification figure; (3) being part of a different parental unit; (4) being part of the new extended family, including at times being recruited to provide needed fathering to the biologic father; (5) being ringmaster-and sometimes clown-in the three-ring circus of the conflicting needs of children and stepchildren.

publication date

  • January 1, 2013

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 10

International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 13

start page

  • 94

end page

  • 101