When resources get sparse: a longitudinal, qualitative study of emotions, coping and resource-creation when parenting a young child with severe disabilities.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Parents who realize that their newborn child is severely disabled often experience severe physical and emotional stress. Parental well-being is essential for the care-taking of the child. It is yet not known why some cope well and others do not. The aim of this study was to explore how parents coped with parenting a disabled child and how they maintained their energy and personal resources. We explored parents' experiences, coping and resources over a two-year period after their child was diagnosed with a severely disabling condition using a qualitative, longitudinal approach. Findings were interpreted in a theoretical framework of Lazarus and Folkman's studies on coping and Fredrickson's broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions, as well as theories of positive illusions and benefit finding during severe adversity. We found that parents continually created and sustained their personal resources through positive cognitive reappraisals of their circumstances, the consequences of those circumstances and their coping possibilities. Nine main coping strategies were identified constituting transformative pathways in resource-creation. A theory of resource-creation is proposed as an addition to the current understanding of coping and the role of positive emotions. Coping and resources were found to be closely interrelated and portals of intervention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth
Volume15
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)115-136
Number of pages21
ISSN1363-4593
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011

ID: 14912832