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Family troubles?Exploring changes and challenges in the family lives of children and young people$
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Jane Ribbens McCarthy, Carol-Ann Hooper, and Val Gillies

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781447304432

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447304432.001.0001

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date: 21 August 2017

Contested family practices and moral reasoning: updating concepts for working with family-related social problems

Contested family practices and moral reasoning: updating concepts for working with family-related social problems

Chapter:
(p.304) (p.305) Chapter Twenty-Four Contested family practices and moral reasoning: updating concepts for working with family-related social problems
Source:
Family troubles?
Author(s):

Hannele Forsberg

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447304432.003.0024

This chapter draws on interviews with social workers in Finland involved in monitoring supervised contact meetings with non-resident parents to reflect on the knowledge and concepts they need to do this highly complex and uncertain work ethically. When families are troubled by divorce/separation, the courts’ role in ordering contact may override some family members’ preferences about ongoing relationships. While the courts work to the principle of ‘the child’s best interests’ and in many cases contact may enable troubling situations to resolve somewhat, children under 12 years old commonly have little say over these decisions and may therefore be in situations that they do not want, and which are sometimes readily observable to be harmful, raising important questions for social workers about their role in implementing the courts’ judgements. In the context of diverse and contested family practices, where dividing lines between the normal and the exceptional are not easily drawn, social work decision-making is inherently value-laden - more than knowledge of research findings, the author argues, it requires the capacity for ongoing moral reasoning informed by dialogue with family members in a particular situation.

Keywords:   Social workers, Supervised contact, Non-resident parents, Children, Moral reasoning, Diversity, Dialogue

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