It has been said for years that incarcerating parents of children has a detrimental effect on the children and on the parental relationship. A new study published n the American Sociological Review presented results that are surprising. The issue has a lot of “gray area”–it is not black and white.
“For the report, researchers analyzed data from the Fragile Families & Child Wellbeing Study, a study involving nearly 5,000 mostly unmarried parents of children born in urban areas. Over the course of the survey, from 1998 to 2000, almost half of the fathers spent time in prison or jail.
The study found negative effects of incarceration on fathers’ engagement with children, “but only when fathers were living with their children prior to incarceration,” according to the report.”
It was determined by the researches that being incarcerated had little effect on the parenting skills of fathers who did not previously live with their children. This was true even after their release from prison.
Another interesting finding was that incarceration increased the likelihood that the non-incarcerated mother would connect with a new life partner, which could offer support of a new family member to the children, “ leading to greater family complexity.”