Culture, coping and parents who have a child with a disability.

2017-02-09T03:05:21Z (GMT) by Kothrakis, Helen
Various person and situation factors have been examined as they affect coping in parenting a child with a disability. However, little data exists on the extent to which cultural system influences coping of parents from diverse cultural backgrounds. Informed by Lazarus and Folkman's (1984) transactional model of stress and coping, and Triandis' (1995) concept of individualist/collectivist cultures, the current study examined the ways ofcoping of 62 mothers and fathers from two different cultural systems (Anglo-Australian [individualist] and Greek-Australian [collectivist]). The focus of research was to quantitatively identify the coping resources that were antecedents to the selection of coping strategies and to qualitatively examine the subjective experience of parents from two diverse cultural systems caring for a child with a disability. The relationship between coping resources (depression, self-esteem, social interest, marital relationship) and coping strategies (problem-focused, seeking social support, blame self, wishful thinking and avoidance) was examined using a battery of five questionnaires. The subjective experiences of the parents were elicited via semi-structured interviews. Analysis of the data revealed that depression was not associated with any of the coping strategies for either the mothers or the fathers in the sample. For mothers, associations were found between self-esteem and wishful thinking and avoidance, and between dyadic adjustment and blame self. Social interest was not associated with any of the coping strategies for mothers. Level of education made no difference in the use of coping strategies for mothers. For fathers, associations were noted between self-esteem and wishful thinking, between dyadic adjustment and problem-focused coping, seeking social support, wishful thinking and avoidance. Fathers with high education made more use of problem-focused coping and fathers with low education differed in the use of wishful thinking and avoidance from the high education fathers. Mothers and fathers differed in their use of seeking social support as a coping strategy, with mothers seeking more social support than fathers. Cultural differences were found between fathers in the use of problem-focused and wishful thinking and avoidance coping strategies. Anglo-Australians used more problem-focused coping than their Greek-Australian counterparts. Greek-Australian fathers used more wishful thinking and avoidance than the Anglo-Australian fathers. Anglo-and Greek-Australian mothers did not differ in their use of coping strategies. Qualitative findings indicated both etic and emic experiences. Similar sources of stress, appraisals, coping resources and coping strategies characterised both groups' experiences of caring for their child with a disability. For Greek-Australian mothers and fathers, references to family, responsibility and stigma identified their collectivist cultural background. For the Anglo-Australian mothers and fathers, references to work, social networks and marital relationship identified their individualist cultural background. Overall, the results of the present study supported the relevance of the use of coping resources (social interest, self-esteem, depression, dyadic adjustment) in the study of ways of coping with child disability; and, supported the presence of differences in coping, both between gender, and between membership in a culturally diverse system. It is suggested that future research continues to investigate these resources using populations from other cultural groups and longitudinal designs so that their role in influencing coping under lifelong and uncontrollable circumstances with non-normative populations might be better understood. It is further suggested that health professionals take into consideration cultural differences and factor them into the care of culturally diverse families with children with a disability.