04 SES 03 A, Understanding Kindergarten Flexibilty, Social Models And Paternal Roles As Strategies for Inclusion
The doctrine of separate private spheres cultivated after the industrial revolution in European countries and America (Richmond-Abbott, 1992) has led in radical changes both in men and women lives: the desirable qualities and expectations have been classified according to the gender. Men, in particular, cultivated the role of provider, protector and responsible for the financial support and welfare of the family, while women were considered to be primarily responsible for the household, caring and emotional well-being of their children (Connell, 2004; Richmond - Abbott, 1992). However, it seems that the one-dimensional model of fathering is unable to correspond to today demands. The figure of father-provider with steady income is being replaced gradually by the figure of father- care giver, a tendency that breaks the ongoing bipolarism between paternal and maternal roles (Popenoe, 1996; Dragon & Nazi , 1995). Additionally, the entry of most women into the labor market due to the economic demands of capitalism and the financial developments of the last few years internationally (Dienhart, 1998), causes a stir in the dual model of social roles both inside and outside the Cypriot context. Men are required to move beyond gender stereotypes, take on a participatory care-giver role and in this respect gain a prominent place in their child’s lives not only for their own benefit but also for their child’s well-being. (Popenoe, 1996; Richmond - Abbott, 1992). To this end, several English and American feminist activists reject gender dualism and support the idea of equal responsibility of children caring between men and women both inside and outside the family structure (Dienhart , 1998).
The labor market is not the only trend that influences fatherhood (Esdaile & Greenwood, 2003; Hornby, 1992; Pelchat, Lefebvre, & Levert, 2007). More specific, the birth of a child is considered to be a significant transition period in the life of a man. But does this transition period differ if the new born baby has also a disability? It seems that the presence of a disabled child is a turning point in most men’s lives. It transforms their lives and experiences. Moreover, it prevails unique challenges to the way that family works (Bragiel & Kaniok, 2014; Darling, Senatore, & Strachan, 2012; Pelchat, Levert, & Bourgeois-Guérin, 2009) as well as how children themselves experience disability (Bonsall, 2013). Moving through a wave of emotional transition and feeling a possible personal fault for their child's disability, fathers are expected to overcome additional difficulties and obstacles that fathers of children without disabilities will never encounter (Shandra, Hogan & Spearin, 2008).
Within such a framework, paternity has regained increased research interest at both European and international level in recent years. The modern research attempts to discover the multifaceted and multidimensional role that fathers develop within the family, especially in cases where the family hosts a disabled child whereas challenges of everyday life are higher and more complex. Thus, this paper aims to investigate: (a) how do men impersonate paternity and what parental role do families adopt with a disabled child; (b) what does it mean to be a father of a disabled child in the Greek-Cypriot context; and (c) what attitudes do fathers adopt towards disability in general and integration in particular.
A mixed research model was applied. Fifteen fathers who were married and lived with a disabled child participated in the qualitative phase (phenomenological approach). Data were collected as follows: Oral history (15 participants; 2 interviews per participant), focus group (3 participants) and observation (7 participants). Along with quality data collection and analysis, the questionaire used in the quantitative phase (paper and digital form) was prepared, with 57 fathers responding. The aim of the questionnaire was to identify factors influencing paternal involvement as well as to capture the trends in paternity style. There is no basis to generalise results in the population (non-representative sample). However, a mixed approach seemed to improve results. In both phases, anonymity and confidentiality procedures were followed.
It was found that male and paternal identity are structured around the status of the worker. Fathering forces some men to find work that provides more money and allows them to develop more effectively the role of provider. In addition, childbirth seems to significantly enhance masculinity. Most fathers interact with their disabled child through entertainment activities, while they show reduced interest in education and care duties. Regarding the paternity type, many participants embrace the assistant father role, others the distant father or the father carrying out mother duties (child care, house cleaning) while the majority of them seem to adopt the participatory fathering role. In relation to the second research question, it has been found that paternity is a period of conflicting emotions. Nobody is pre-prepared to become a parent of a disabled child. Disability is identified as the uninvited visitor from whom they think they can escape. After travelling abroad they realise that disability has a permanent status. Hence, they are engaged in an early intervention and support to their disabled child. It takes a long time for fathers to achieve acceptance, whereas with a lack of a positive attitude there is a risk of abandoning the disabled child. By accepting disability, they greatly increase their satisfaction in the paternal role. In addition, they claim that disability has a positive effect on their lives. The main problem they face is the negative attitudes of society (fear towards disability), especially since the decriminalisation of abortions has revived the notion that death is better than life with disability. However, the strong rhetoric that the Orthodox Church has developed around the issue of abortion and their personal experience prevents most fathers from disapproving of abortion, contending that lives of the disabled people are just as valuable as any human life.
Bonsall, A. (2013). An Ethnographic Study of Men Fathering Children With Disabilities. University of Soutern California. Bragiel, J., & Kaniok, P. E. (2014). Demographic variables and fathers’ involvement with their child with disabilities. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 14(1), 43–50. http://doi.org/10.1111/1471-3802.12005 Connell, W. R. (2004). Gender. Cambridge: Polity. Darling, C. A., Senatore, N., & Strachan, J. (2012). Fathers of children with disabilities: Stress and life satisfaction. Stress and Health, 28(4), 269–278. http://doi.org/10.1002/smi.1427 Dienhart, A. (1998). Reshaping fatherhood the social construction of shared parenting. Thousand Oaks, Califfornia: SAGE Publications. Esdaile, S. A., & Greenwood, K. M. (2003). A comparison of mothers’ and fathers’ experience of parenting stress and attributions for parent-child interaction outcomes. Occupational Therapy International, 10(2), 115–126. http://doi.org/10.1002/oti.180 Hornby, G. (1992). A Review of Fathers’ Accounts of Their Experiences of Parenting Children with Disabilities. Disability, Handicap & Society, 7(4), 363–374. http://doi.org/10.1080/02674649266780431 Parker Harris, S., Owen, R., & Gould, R. (2012). Parity of participation in liberal welfare states: human rights, neoliberalism, disability and employment. Disability & Society, 27(6), 823–836. http://doi.org/10.1080/09687599.2012.679022 Pelchat, D., Lefebvre, H., & Levert, M. J. (2007). Gender differences and similarities in the experience of parenting a child with a health problem: Current state of knowledge. Journal of Child Health Care, 11(2), 112–131. http://doi.org/10.1177/1367493507076064 Pelchat, D., Levert, M. J., & Bourgeois-Guérin, V. (2009). How do mothers and fathers who have a child with a disability describe their adaptation/transformation process? Journal of Child Health Care, 13(3), 239–259. http://doi.org/10.1177/1367493509336684 Popenoe, D. (1996). Life without father. New York: Martin Kessler Books. Richmond - Abbott, M. (1992). Masculine & Feminine: Gender roles over the life cycle (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. Shandra, C. L., Hogan, D. P., & Spearin, C. E. (2008). Parenting a child with a disability: an examination of resident and non-resident fathers. Journal of Population Research (Canberra, A.C.T.), 25(3), 357–377. http://doi.org/10.1007/BF03033895.PARENTING
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