Parenting and Disability: Disabled Parents' Experiences of Raising Children

Parenting and Disability: Disabled Parents' Experiences of Raising Children

Parenting and Disability: Disabled Parents' Experiences of Raising Children

Parenting and Disability: Disabled Parents' Experiences of Raising Children

Synopsis

This book reports on the first substantial UK study of parenting, disability and mental health. It examines the views of parents and children in 75 families. Covering a broad spectrum of issues facing disabled parents and their families, Parenting and disability:provides a comprehensive review of relevant policy issues;explores the barriers to full participation in parenting that disabled parents face;examines the complex ways in which broader social divisions, including gender and socioeconomic status, interact with disability;advocates measures to support disabled parents and their families by promoting and supporting relationships within the family.The book is aimed at a wide audience, including students and academics in social policy, social work, disability studies, sociology, education, and nursing, people working in the voluntary sector, disabled activists and their supporters, as well as policy makers and practitioners in a range of statutory agencies.

Excerpt

In recent years, disabled parents have grown increasingly vocal in challenging the barriers that they face in fulfilling their parental role. They, and their organisations, have begun to place issues of importance to disabled parents on national and local policy agendas, often in collaboration with allies in academia and both statutory and voluntary sectors. They have also sought to transform public and professional perceptions of disabled people as the recipients (as opposed to providers) of ‘care’, which often reflect a deep-seated antipathy to the very idea of disabled people having children. Indeed, we deliberately chose this book’s subtitle – Disabled parents’ experiences of raising children – because of the assumption that would inevitably be made in some quarters of a book entitled Parenting and disability: that it must be about disabled children and their (implicitly non-disabled) parents. An important aspect of these attempts to challenge dominant perceptions, and to raise the profile of the parental responsibilities of disabled people, is the development of a literature that views parenting and disability as essentially about equal opportunities. Others, often disabled parents themselves, have already begun this process and we hope that this book makes a contribution to the development of such a literature.

Our book is the result of a research project entitled ‘Parenting and disability: the role of formal and informal networks’, funded by the Department of Health as part of its Supporting Parents research programme, and carried out at the Nuffield Community Care Studies Unit, University of Leicester, between 1997 and 2000. The Supporting Parents programme followed on from previous research initiatives funded by the Department of Health, which had pointed to the ways in which child protection work, as opposed to family support work, had dominated the post-Children Act environment. Therefore our research, with a ‘normative’ group of disabled parents (that is, a group not defined by their use of a particular service), was very timely in that it looked at access to support for a group of disabled parents who were not predetermined in some sense as a ‘social problem’, or already identified as having ‘failed’ for any reason. This made a research study informed by a social model perspective on disability possible from the outset.

Parenting is simultaneously one of the most private, intimate roles that we undertake and yet is one subject to the greatest public gaze and scrutiny. Its position at the intersection of public and private worlds makes parenting a wonderfully rich subject to research. Indeed, it is also an enriching subject to research, and we know that we have a different understanding of parenting, and of disability, in our own lives as a result of carrying out this project and of being flying visitors in the lives of the families we met. The public and private faces of parenting also make for data that are complex, difficult and contingent. They do not make for easy analysis and flat description. This research, and the process of dissemination we are now undertaking, has therefore involved a process . . .

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