THE INFLUENCE OF PARENTAL DISABILITY ON CHILDREN: AN EXPLORATORY INVESTIGATION OF THE ADULT CHILDREN OF SPINAL CORD INJURED FATHERS
AuthorBuck, Frances Marks
KeywordsAdolescent psychology -- Research.
Spinal cord -- Wounds and injuries -- Psychological aspects.
Spinal cord -- Wounds and injuries -- Social aspects.
Father and child.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe present study examined the effects of physical disability in fathers on the development and adjustment of their children. There is little empirically based information about the influence of physical characteristics of parents on children, but speculative articles have described many deleterious effects of being raised by a physically handicapped parent. These hypothesized relations between parental disability and child adjustment were tested. Two groups of adult children selected through the Veterans Administration Spinal Cord Injury system were studied: (a) Disabled Parent (DP)--17 male and 28 female children, mean age 21.6, who were raised by a spinal cord injured father from a mean age of 1.31, and (b) Comparison (C)--15 male and 21 female children, mean age 23.8, with nondisabled fathers. The two groups were matched on father's age, education level, state of residence, and disposable family income. Children had lived with both parents until age 15, and their fathers were veterans. Subjects completed a battery of tests: the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF), Bem Sex Role Inventory, Body-Cathexis scale, Parent-Child Relations Questionnaire II (PCR), and Buck-Hohmann questionnaire (designed specifically for this study). The results did not support any of the hypothesized relations between parental disability status and child adjustment. DP and C children scored within the normal range on the MMPI and 16PF. The only significant difference which emerged was that DP children tended to be more cautious in emotional expression than did C subjects. The DP and C groups did not differ in body image or sex role orientation. On the Rokeach Value Survey, DP children ranked national security, a world at peace, clean, obedient, and responsible higher than did C children. C children valued being logical more than DP children. As perceived by the children, DP and C fathers did not differ significantly in the degree to which they were loving or rejecting, casual or demanding (PCR). On the Buck-Hohmann questionnaire, there was no evidence that disabled fathers excluded themselves from discipline and childrearing aspects of parenthood or that disabled fathers lose control over their children. DP children were found to hold significantly more positive attitudes toward their fathers than were C children. There were no effects on children's health patterns or interpersonal relations as a function of the father's disability status. DP children expressed more interest and participation in athletics than did C children. It was concluded that parental disability does not pose a severe threat to child adjustment. Children with spinal cord injured fathers appeared to be well-adjusted, emotionally stable persons who highly regarded their fathers. Limitations of the study and implications for rehabilitation programs, adoption and court custody decisions, and future research were discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College