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Dads with tatts wanted for new PhdD study

A Western Sydney University PhD student is looking to speak with separated or divorced dads who don’t live with their children full-time, and who may also have tattoos.

Through his research, Dom Violi is investigating what kind of relationship dads want to have with their children after separation/divorce and what helps or hinders the realisation of that relationship.

“I am interested in talking to all kinds of non-resident fathers, including those who have some children living with them full-time (including step-children), those that live far away from their children as well as those who have shared care of their children.”

He would also like to hear from non-resident fathers who have tattoos relating to their children, mental health or as a positive motivation in their everyday life.

Dom says tattoos are “a broad reality in contemporary society and many new fathers have the names and/or dates of birth or other significant symbols relating to their children tattooed upon themselves at the time of birth or later.”

He wants to know how living with these tattoos on a day-to-day basis might also impact a father’s emotional and mental health.

“As a result of divorce, a father’s pattern of expectation is disrupted and he has to construct a new ‘self’ within an uncertain context, while dealing with and managing a range of entities, factors and events which are largely out of his control,” says Dom.

“For non-resident fathers, the often-deteriorating relationships and ensuing marginalisation from their children, social groups and their wider family after separation/divorce often results in non-finite loss or disenfranchised grief.

“If the non-resident father is not able to see or be with his children as much or in the manner he may wish, and he has tattoos that relate to his children inked into his body, what is the ongoing day-to-day effect of seeing and living with these tattoos?

“Are they an ongoing reminder of what he has lost? Of what he does not have? Of the scale of what he has to undertake in order to realise his desired relationship with his children? Does he ignore the tattoos pretending they are not there? Does ignoring the tattoos equate to feeling like he is ignoring his children? Has he tried to remove the tattoos? Or would he want to?  Do they inspire or depress him? 

“It would be valuable to answer these questions to understand an unexplored area of non-resident fathers experience and the impact of this experience on his self.”

Dom does not have any tattoos himself and treads carefully when asking people about their tattoos. Some are happy to talk, others are suspicious.

One tradie with an etching on the inside of his arm that read, “justify your existence,” made light of his decision to get a tattoo, saying it was just a silly thing he did.

The man later adminted he had gone ahead with the tattoo after his divorce and to serve as a reminder to stay positive and to do better for the sake of his children (who did not live with him anymore).

“This episode demonstrates that tattoos are a significant mechanism as a motivational tool for non-resident fathers, but, as they are often undertaken under different and more positive times, it needs to be explored and documented what effect these tattoos actually have on non-resident mental and social health.”

Participants his Dom’s study will take part in one open-ended interview, lasting between 1 – 1.5 hours.

For more information or to take part in the study, please contact Dom on [email protected] or call 02 45701 926.


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