Family Separation and Boundary Ambiguity

March 1983 (VOL. 1, NO. 1)

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The quality of a father's absence or presence in the family is the long-time focus of the researcher and presents a new view in the father absent literature. The variable of Psychological Father Presence (PFP) is described, operationalized and empirically verified as dysfunctional for families with physically missing fathers. Based on these finding which are reviewed, the author demonstrated how disaster research can be used to build stress theory for more normative family situations of father absence such as divorce. To illustrate, examples from the Boss boundary ambiguity project and the McCubbin coping project are presented. This author's major premise is that high family boundary ambiguity (as indicated by high PFP with physical father absence) will be predicted of high family dysfunction and that such family boundary ambiguity can be found in situations of divorce as well as in situations where families face the disaster of having a father missing from war. The overall thesis is that ambiguity in the family boundary is the critical predictor regarding the outcome of various kinds of father absence.