Background: Due to a predominant focus on mothers, fathers of children with disabilities are greatly overlooked in research. One could argue that there is a lack of research on the multifaceted nature of fatherhood altogether. Therefore, this study aims to gain insight into the perceived experiences of fathers of children with disabilities.
Methods: These perceptions were studied by analysing data generated through semi-structured interviews, which were conducted with 12 Dutch fathers of children or young adults with disabilities.
Results: Categories found during our data analysis were similar to those illustrated in the ‘conceptual framework on responsible fathering’ by including role identification, commitment, employment characteristics, cultural expectations and social support.
Conclusions: Overall, the fathers in this study reported similar experiences, but this study identified new life perspective as an additional category, which might be specific for fathers of children with disabilities. This new life perspective included a positive attitude, living in the moment, appreciation of the little things and transformation of expectations. Some fathers expressed that their child(ren) has enriched their lives, which positively influenced their fathering experience.
Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 2020, 64 (6): 442-454. First published online: 12 January 2020