Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Child Involvement and Stress in Greek Mothers of Deaf Children

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Child Involvement and Stress in Greek Mothers of Deaf Children

Article excerpt

Forty-two mothers of Greek deaf children reported their level of stress, availability of support, duration and frequency of involvement with their children, and affective tone of involvement, using an adaptation of Hill's ABCX model of stress and support (1949). Data on the interaction among six caregiving categories were collected over a 2-day period. Mothers of younger children and of boys, as well as mothers reporting greater stress, had longer and more frequent involvement. Mothers with greater stress were also more likely to rate the affective tone of their involvement as more neutral or as chorelike. Support availability was unrelated to involvement, with the exception of supporting neighbors. Compared to Canadian mothers of children both with and without disabilities, exposed to the same study protocol, the mothers in the present study were not more stressed. However, they were more likely to report a negative affective tone in their caregiving.

That deafness constitutes a disability with serious ramifications for the rest of the family has been long recognized. Not only can deafness be debilitating, but at least some evidence suggests that its effects can be more detrimental than those of other chronic conditions. In a study comparing the effects of diabetes, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and deafness, for example, Tavormina, Boll, Dunn, Luscomb, and Taylor (1981) found that parents of the deaf group reported the greatest stress. They were also more likely to indicate that they had the most difficulty managing their disruptive children; parents of children with asthma and cystic fibrosis reported the least stress.

Communication difficulties may be a key problem in parents' management of their deaf children. Although studies have shown a trend in recent years toward greater use of sign language by the parents of deaf children (Meyers & Bartee, 1992), problems continue to exist, as shown by Harvey's study (1984), in which as many as 88% of hearing parents of deaf children were reported not to use signs with their children. This problem may be compounded in cultures not exposed to information on deafness and the advantages of a shared system of communication within the family.

Over the last decade, we have been studying the effects of a variety of disabling conditions in the child upon parents and siblings, following an approach first presented by Hill (1949) and more recently modified by others (McCubbin & Patterson, 1983). In Hill's ABCX model, A stands for the child with a disability who has the potential to act as a stressor, B for the resources and supports available to the parents, C for the meaning, to the stressed parents, of their child's disability, and X for the fluctuating and ever-changing end product of forces A, B, and C. We have also taken into account the updated version of the ABCX model, the Double Helix ABCX (McCubbin & Patterson, 1983), which formally takes the factor of time into account. In addition to the stressor, the pileup of stressor events, represented by a, the additional resources and supports or lack thereof, represented by b, and the further perceptions and modifications of previous cognitive elaborations upon the stressor, represented by c, make for a new, more complete model. We have also taken into account the social ecology model proposed by Bronfenbrenner (1979), in which the family is seen as a microsystem embedded within the mesosystem of societal groups with which the family interacts, such as friends and extended family, and the ecosystem, which comprises various institutions directly or indirectly involved with the family, such as social and welfare agencies and health systems. Finally, the macrosystem is the largest category of the family's social ecology, consisting of the ethnic, cultural, religious, and other values prevalent in the greater society.

Thus far we have examined the effects of deafness in Greek children on their mothers (Konstantareas & Lampropoulou, 1995), looking at how factors A, B, and C of the Hill (1949) model affected stress. …

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