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Joe and his dad getting breakfast (note the Special Olympics Jerry is wearing).

Dads… this is a topic that brings up a lot of stuff for families. There’s not a lot of research out there … there’s stuff about divorce rates for couples raising a child with a disability (22%) but I was looking for the dad perspective.

In our house, over the last 19 years, Jerry and I have quietly partnered in the changing needs (no pun intended) of Joe’s daily life.

We just do our thing. I probably share more about things with my friends than Jerry does. I think guys tend to share less about their deep dark feelings about their kids so they keep it to sports and stuff. Maybe when they know the other dad has a similar experience with raising a child with a disability, it is different. A safer conversational risk.

There is a lot out there on the internet about dads raising kids, but most of the articles are written by dads and many of them focus on children diagnosed with autism. But, I did find this really great 2018 article by Shailen Singh published in the Disability and Society Journal called, “I am who I need to be: reflections on parental identity development from a father of a child with disabilities”

I think for us the key is really about all of us learning how to communicate better, use teamwork to get things done and, occasionally, take advantage of caregiver support not just for a date night, but also so we can independently do things we need to do for ourselves, like, work, exercise, complete household chores, and run errands. We also have to give each other grace A LOT.

I think fathers of children with disabilities have to be in touch with their emotional selves in a different way than dads who have kids who do not have a disability. They have to learn how to live with grief, accept what is, while staying positive in the face of a world where disability is viewed as something that elicits sympathy or worse, pity. Dads have to puff up and show pride … defending his children because they belong to him. That takes strength and energy.

Joe and his Dad have an amazing connection. Most of the dads I meet at IEP meetings, or at events or, just in the world, share many of these same qualities that I see in my husband. Even though my husband and I consider Mother’s and Father’s Day Hallmark created holidays… it is still a great excuse to celebrate this remarkable role we have been given.

Here are a couple of resources for you Dads out there.

Parent to Parent of Ga

Dads4SpecialKids facebook group

Fathers’ and Mothers’ perceptions of father involvement in families with young children with a disability scholarly article in Disability and Society journal

Nancy Bailey’s Education Website, Dads and Children with Disabilities

Jane Grillo is in awe of the dads this week.


Published by janegrillo

Helping families of children with disability, learning about the world, living my best life...

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