Parenting Matters! Part 2 - Fathering in the Context of Childhood Disability and Health Conditions
Part 2 in our series from the CIHR Team in Parenting Matters, this presentation reflects several studies examining the experiences of fathers caring for their child with a chronic health condition or disability. We further will address the couple (or multiple parent) relationship as as it impacts, and is impacted by, this form of caregiving. Aggregate findings from several studies will be drawn upon, including reflection on our current Parenting Matters! project. In one component of this multi-study national project, we are examining the experiences of parents of a child with a neuro-development disability.
Overall, findings identify fathers as profoundly affected by their child's chronic health condition and/or disability. On balance, fathers report admiration for their child and family, as well as a deep sense of responsibility for the well-being of their partner and family. In part, this pursuit of family well-being appears to be demonstrated by maintaining a 'stiff upper lip' despite substantial (and concealed) personal concern and pain. In varying degrees, fathers describe isolation which may be exacerbated by limited targeted fatherhood support within clinical services, generally unsupportive labour and workplace policies, and discursive presumptions about fatherhood in the context of paediatric chronic conditions.
Couples mutually demonstrate varying processes relative to the navigation of care for their child with a chronic health condition. Emergent patterns appear to include symmetrical parenting in which parenting tasks are interchangeably fulfilled by both parents, as opposed to complementary parenting whereby caregiving roles and tasks are clearly demarcated. This presentation will examine these findings and emergent constructs as they are associated with parenting and paediatric chronic health conditions. Clinical implications will be addressed.
- , Associate Professor (status only), Factor Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
- , Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary