Having a child with a disability takes a toll on parents’ mental and physical health, yet new research suggests that, over time, parents learn to adapt to the challenges of caring for a disabled child. As these parents age, the study shows, their health more closely mirrors the health of parents with children who don’t have disabilities.
The study, conducted by a team of sociologists and social work researchers from the University of Chicago and University of Wisconsin-Madison, is the first to use a representative sample to systematically examine the effect of having children with developmental or mental health problems on parental well-being, comparing the sample to parents of children without disabilities.
Researchers analyzed data from the Study of Midlife in the United States to examine the effect of having disabled children on parental health; the extent to which the toll varies by parental age and gender; and the effect of disability-related factors on the well-being of parents of children with disabilities.
- Jung-Hwa Ha, Jinkuk Hong, Marsha Mailick Seltzer, and Jan S. Greenberg. Age and Gender Differences in the Well-Being of Midlife and Aging Parents with Children with Mental Health or Developmental Problems: Report of a National Study. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, September 2008 [link]
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