Title

Fathering occupations: A review of published descriptions written by fathers parenting special needs children

Start Time

21-10-2011 1:00 PM

End Time

21-10-2011 1:30 PM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

In this paper I will examine occupations as described in published accounts written by fathers with special needs children. Though mothering occupations have been an important subject within occupational science (Esdaile & Olson, 2004), fathering occupations have received little attention. From a multidisciplinary perspective, researchers have increasingly called for an examination of quality of time fathers spend with their children (Bulanda, 2004). I propose the use of fathering occupations in order to examine the meaningful activities that occur between fathers and their children with disabilities.

In order to identify fathering occupations I examined narratives of participation in occupations within memoires written by fathers of children with special needs. Descriptions of occupations were collected and classified into themes. Themes that emerged were described and analyzed.

Three themes emerged within the data. First, fathers and children engaged in activities related to occupations that existed before having a child with special needs. These included doing math problems or participating in sports with their children. Second, fathers and children engaged in occupations that related specifically to children’s disability such as a bathing ritual for a teenage son. Third, fathers adopted new occupations prompted by children’s special needs but that did not directly include the child. These occupations included political involvement related to the child’s needs and writing about the experience being a father.

These themes taken from fathers’ own accounts of their experiences give us insight into the impact having a special needs child has on fathering occupations. Though some past studies have argued that fathers’ interaction with their children primarily centered around play (Paquette, 2004), father’s own descriptions suggested that their participation with their children is more nuanced and variable. Fathering occupations warrant further examination and have important implications for studying families, parenting, and fatherhood.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does having a child with special needs influence fathering occupations?
  2. What can occupational science contribute to the interdisciplinary study of fatherhood?

References

Bulanda, R. (2004). Paternal involvement with children: The influence of gender ideologies. Journal of Marriage and Family, 66, 40- 45. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-2455.2004.00003.x

Esdaile, S. A., & Olson, J. A. (2004). Mothering occupations: Challenge, agency and participation. Philadelphia: FA Davis.

Paquette, D. (2004). Theorizing the father-child relationship: Mechanisms and developmental outcomes. Human Development, 47, 193-219. http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000078723

Comments

Research paper

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Oct 21st, 1:00 PM Oct 21st, 1:30 PM

Fathering occupations: A review of published descriptions written by fathers parenting special needs children

In this paper I will examine occupations as described in published accounts written by fathers with special needs children. Though mothering occupations have been an important subject within occupational science (Esdaile & Olson, 2004), fathering occupations have received little attention. From a multidisciplinary perspective, researchers have increasingly called for an examination of quality of time fathers spend with their children (Bulanda, 2004). I propose the use of fathering occupations in order to examine the meaningful activities that occur between fathers and their children with disabilities.

In order to identify fathering occupations I examined narratives of participation in occupations within memoires written by fathers of children with special needs. Descriptions of occupations were collected and classified into themes. Themes that emerged were described and analyzed.

Three themes emerged within the data. First, fathers and children engaged in activities related to occupations that existed before having a child with special needs. These included doing math problems or participating in sports with their children. Second, fathers and children engaged in occupations that related specifically to children’s disability such as a bathing ritual for a teenage son. Third, fathers adopted new occupations prompted by children’s special needs but that did not directly include the child. These occupations included political involvement related to the child’s needs and writing about the experience being a father.

These themes taken from fathers’ own accounts of their experiences give us insight into the impact having a special needs child has on fathering occupations. Though some past studies have argued that fathers’ interaction with their children primarily centered around play (Paquette, 2004), father’s own descriptions suggested that their participation with their children is more nuanced and variable. Fathering occupations warrant further examination and have important implications for studying families, parenting, and fatherhood.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does having a child with special needs influence fathering occupations?
  2. What can occupational science contribute to the interdisciplinary study of fatherhood?