Some people are born with particular physical or mental impairments, which often prevent them from leading a life on their own without the help of their carers. Those kids depend on their parents from an early age, and in some cases, they do so until they are adults, as it is difficult for them to exist without aid. Family members who are expected to take on the role of caretakers suffer from a variety of issues related to their emotional, financial, and social well-being. Typically, the emotional condition of the parents has a direct impact on the children, and both parties may continue unknowingly hurting one another. Therefore, it is essential to provide psychological support to parents and other family members of disabled children in order to preserve a positive home environment and strong family bonds. Thus, the purpose of this research is to examine the situation of children with disabilities, the significance of psychological support for caregivers, and the relationship between parental resilience and children’s well-being.
While some children have the possibility to lead a regular life, play, study, and socialize, some have to put extra effort into completing even the easiest duties. According to Jackson et al. (2018), “disability severity (assessed as mild, moderate, severe or profound) is determined by the number of domains of functioning that are affected” (p. 4207). Limitations and inconveniences that children experience throughout their lives on a daily basis vary depending on the degree to which they are capable or incapable of performing general tasks and exist autonomously. When they reach the age to transition from kindergarten to school, they face many complexities during the process due to the change in the surrounding environment, causing a lot of stress (Waters et al., 2019). However, it is only one of the numerous milestones that children with disabilities have to overcome constantly.
Childcare is always a demanding process that requires full-time assistance from the parents, and their constant attention to the child might be intense sometimes. However, if the children have disabilities, the process is much more complicated than when a child has stable health. Especially in cases with autism, it becomes even harder for parents, and their face an additional number of worries connected with psychological well-being compared to other disabilities (Bradshaw et al., 2021). The mental outcomes of the parents and the whole family, in general, depend on the interconnection between the members, mutual support, and the quality of relationships (Migerode et al., 2012). As Montirosso et al. (2021) state, “the high caregiving burden and the increased parental stress can further exacerbate the children’s emotional and behavioral problems, starting a vicious circle (p. 429). Children who feel the pressure and tension coming from their parents towards them may stimulate a worsening in their behavior and even health. When caregivers can deal with the responsibilities, maintain a positive attitude, and avoid excessive negativity, the child feels secure and more relaxed.
Thus, parents’ psychological state directly affects their children, especially the ones with different kinds of disabilities, since they depend on their caregivers much more than their regular peers. When family members are unable to deal with struggles and anxiety and have a low level of resilience, then children start feeling nervous and stressed as well because they rely entirely on the adults.
One of the crucial factors that allow parents to deal with the obstacles caused by the caregiving of a child with a disability is a high level of resilience. It serves to prevent the usual overwhelming concerns and keep the balance of the positive and negative aspects of life as a caregiver (Montirosso et al., 2021). Resilience works as an adaptive mechanism that allows parents to calmly perceive the appearing issues and solve them staying functional and avoiding the depressive condition (Migerode et al., 2012). Although caregiving is tough, and sometimes family members can be on the edge of burnout, resilience helps to maintain an optimistic outlook on the situation.
Attending support groups and talking to others who understand your challenges also greatly improve your capacity to withstand stress and anxiety outbursts. A family environment that is more favorable and more predisposed to good parent-child connections as well as healthier psychological and physical states is created by higher resilience. In turn, the incapacity to take action to solve the issue and the tendency to be negatively impacted by stressful situations are damaging for the caregiver and almost equally so for the kid.
Society has a significant problem considering the caregiving for children with disabilities and the parental role in it. Recently, I saw an article where the mother of a girl who cannot walk shared her experience as a caregiver for a child with certain movement complications. After reading it, it seemed like a crucial topic that needed to be addressed, and I decided to choose it for the research.
Purpose of the Study
The purpose of the study is to research and analyze parental resilience and mental state in connection with the children’s conditions and ability to cope with their responsibilities.
- What complications do parents of children with disabilities face?
- How the situation affects parental mental health?
- Does the parental psychological state influence the children’s well-being?
- What is the role of parental resilience level in caregiving for children with disabilities?
- What are the means of support for the parents?
This is a correlational study that measured the variables without any additional manipulations or experimentations. When using a correlational study design, no variables are within the researcher’s direct control or manipulation. The degree and direction of the association among two or more elements are reflected in a correlation. A correlation may go in either a positive or negative way.
- List of participants (primarly parents, in some cases, children are involved as well)
- Sample of questions
- Contacts of the participants
- Voluntarily agreement from the parents to share results with the public
Data Collection Procedures
In advance, I created the questionnaires, which included various questions that would allow getting the perception of the parental experience of taking care of children with disabilities. Some of them included short answers such as yes or no; some required more detailed descriptions and personal thoughts; in certain questions, parents had to rate how much they agreed or disagreed with a statement. I contacted the potential participants, described the task and purpose, and, receiving their agreement on sharing the results afterward, sent them the list with questions. They had two days to fill out the questionnaire and send me, but most of them completed the task on the first day.
Results showed that parents often experience stress and anxiety regarding their children’s upbringing and the conditions for it. They noticed that in periods of extreme mental struggle, children misbehave more and become harder to interact with. Many participants mentioned that they feel the need for additional moral support from close family members and people with similar situations in their lives.
Children with disabilities have to experience many challenges throughout their lives compared to the majority of those who do not have any physical and mental limitations. They require constant care and attention from their parents, which may also often be stressful for adults. Family members can face such challenges as anxiety, isolation from social life, financial issues, and many different outcomes of this responsibility. However, parents should learn how to deal with their feelings because suppressed emotions directly affect the mental well-being of the children. Thus, if the family members have a high level of resilience, they will more easily overcome the obstacles without negative consequences for their loved ones. In that case, support groups can successfully assist parents with disabled children by supporting them in their struggles and providing all the necessary resources to keep performing their duties and staying mentally stable.
Limitations and Ethical Considerations
Although the topic for the study is rather sensitive, it should be open to the public for many reasons. Firstly, I made sure that all the questions and procedures during the study correlated with the ethical principles and did not make anyone involved uncomfortable. Secondly, I received an agreement to share the results with the participants, and it will not offend anyone’s interests. However, as a matter of confidentiality, the names and any personal data will be secured and not exposed. Participants demonstrated enthusiasm and desire to publish the results since they believe that the topic requires more attention from the public.
Bradshaw, J., Gillespie, S., McCracken, C., King, B. H., McCracken, J. T., Johnson, C. R., Lecavalier, L., Smith, T., Sweizy, N., Bearss, K., Sikich, L., Donnelly, C., Hollander, E., McDougle C. J., & Scahill, L. (2021). Predictors of caregiver strain for parents of children with an autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 51(9), 3039-3049.
Jackson, J. B., Steward, S. R., Roper, S. O., & Muruthi, B. A. (2018). Support group value and design for parents of children with severe or profound intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 48(12), 4207-4221.
Migerode, F., Maes, B., Buysse, A., & Brondeel, R. (2012). Quality of life in adolescents with a disability and their parents: The mediating role of social support and resilience. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 24(5), 487-503.
Montirosso, R., Mascheroni, E., Guida, E., Piazza, C., Sali, M. E., Molteni, M., & Reni, G. (2021). Stress symptoms and resilience factors in children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Psychology, 40(7), 428.
Waters, C. L., & Friesen, A. (2019). Parent experiences of raising a young child with multiple disabilities: The transition to preschool. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 44(1), 20-36.