Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Mary Jane Brotherson

Second Advisor

Harvey Joanning


This is a qualitative study which examined the influence of parent gender on division of work in families of children with disabilities. Thirty-three interviews were completed with mothers and fathers from ten families over a four year period. The study used a family systems framework to examine child and family characteristics, family perceptions, family interactions, and social roles and family work. Data was obtained through in-depth interviews and family stories and cross-cutting themes were identified and discussed. Results indicated mothers are continuing to assume the majority of the work including direct and indirect child care, and are experiencing role strain over the life cycle. The severity of disability increased the work and role demands placed on mothers. Fathers "help out" their wives, and both mothers and fathers perceived their relationships to be good. Both mothers and fathers expressed a need to perceive their child and family as normal and to persevere to define quality of life. Many fathers withdrew initially from their children with disabilities and their wives at the time of diagnosis. Fathers perceive their main role as financial manager and leader of the family and most of these parents discussed financial hardship due to disability. Implications are discussed for both future research and practice with families of children with disabilities.*;*Originally published in DAI Vol. 57, No. 4. Reprinted here with corrected author name.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Lynn Terri Martin



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164 pages