MOTHERS VERSOS FATHERS REACTIONS TO THE DIAGNOSIS OF CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DELAY
תגובתם של אימהות מול אבות לאבחון של ילדים בעלי עיכוב התפתחותי
Yael Barak-Levy & Naama Atzaba Poria
יעל ברק לוי ונעמה עצבה פוריה
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, P.O.B 653, Beer Sheva, Israel
Introduction: Parents of children with disabilities express a variety of reactions to their child's diagnosis. These were found to be indicative of the quality of parenting and the child-parent attachment typology (Marvin & Pianta, 1996). The Reaction to the Diagnosis Interview (RDI; Marvin & Pianta, 1996) stipulates three subcategories of a resolved coping style (action, feeling and thinking) and six subcategories of an unresolved coping style (emotionally overwhelmed, angry, neutralizing, depressed, cognitive distortion and disorganized). Yet, past research typically described differences between the resolved versus unresolved style of resolution, neglecting the examination of variances between the subcategories of resolution. This study describes an in-depth definition of the paternal and maternal resolution styles of parents of children with Developmental Delay (DD).
Materials and Methods: 65 couples of parents of children with DD (ages 3-7; M=5.5, SD=.73) participated. Each parent was interviewed using the RDI (Pianta and Marvin, 1992) to assess resolution style.
Results: More parents were unresolved (60%) than resolved (40%). No significant difference was found between mothers and fathers. However, mothers’ and fathers’ frequencies differentiated significantly on six of the nine subcategories. There were higher percentages of mothers in feeling-oriented, emotionally overwhelmed and angry, whereas fathers were more frequently coded as thinking-oriented, neutralizing and disorganized.
Conclusions: Findings indicate that mothers use more "emotional" strategies when coping with receiving their child's diagnosis, whilst fathers display a more "under-emotional" approach to coping. Health care professionals should be aware of the differential coping styles of mothers and fathers when attempting to support these families.