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PSYC 3850 (88)
Chapter 12

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3850
Carol Anne Hendry

Chapter 12: Families - The family is the oldest and most enduring of all human institutions - Family is characterized as a diverse and evolving social system - Married couples constitute onlt 52% of famiy households - Approximately 20% of all children are living in single parent families with the mother as the head of the household - 10% of families live in poverty - 8% of family members between the ages of 5 and 20 have an identified disability - Regardless of its structure, the family is centered on an emotional bond between parents and the children - Family systems exist for reasons such as: security, belonging and love - Many individuals see children as an extension of themselves, others as a means to attain some degree of immorality The Impact of the Child with Intellectual Disabilities on the Family - Intellectual disabilities may be apparent at birth or may become evident only with the passage of time - Parents of children with intellectual disabilities may have many reactions, ranging from awareness and acceptance From Awareness to Acceptance - Rosen addressed five stages through which parents of children with intellectual disabilities may progress from the time they first become aware of a child’s differences until acceptance of the condition o Awareness of differences or delays in the child’s growth and development o Recognition that the condition is intellectual disabilities o Search for a cause for the intellectual disabilities o Search for a cure o Acceptance of the child - The degree of impact, frustration, or disappointment however does not necessarily correlate directly with the degree of intellectual disability - Etiology and age of onset are also important factors - Fathers and mothers may react very differently towards the child Denial - Parents may go through denial, especially during the initial stage of adjustment - Denial can be useless and destructive o Useless- refusal to accept the reality of a child’s disability does not make the child’s differences disappear o Destructive- it can impede the child’s own acceptance of limitations and prevent needed services and supports - Denial provides self-protection against painful realities - The Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) requires parental consent before placement of a child in special education, so the child with intellectual disabilities whose parents deny that the condition exists will be excluded from receiving the specialized instruction he or she may need Projecting Blame - Parents may project blame for the child with intellectual disabilities on others - Parents blame others for the birth of their child with intellectual disabilities o Targets are frequently physicians Fear - Parents may fear having other children, loss of friends, a lifetime of care and impact on the family unit Guilt - Parents of children with intellectual disabilities may blame themselves for their child’s condition - Assuming blame does not eliminate the child’s disability and the negative emotions associated with guilt are extremely difficult to dispel Grief and Mourning - When parents realize that their child has intellectual disabilities they may react with grief or mourning - Grief is a natural reaction to situations that bring extreme pain and disappointment Withdrawal - Parents may choose to isolate themselves because of their feelings of shame and guilt - Solitude can be therapeutic - Withdrawal is also potentially damaging - By withdrawing, parents can construct a protective barrier or space and silence against outside pain, if not against the hurt inside Rejection - Parents may show rejection of a child through strong under expectations of achievement, unrealistic goals, escape and reaction formations - Parental rejection is expressed in four different ways 1. Strong under expectations of achievement: parents devalue the child and minimize any positive attributes. The child often becomes aware of the parental attitude, begins to have feelings of self worthlessness and behaves accordingly (self fulfilling prophecy) 2. Setting unrealistic goals: parents sometimes set goals so unrealistically high that they are unattainable. When the child fails to reach these goals, parents justify their negative feelings and attitudes on the basis of the child’s limitations 3. Escape: desertion or running away. Examples include a parent leaving the home, spending little time at home, sending the child to another school etc. 4. Reaction formation: when parents deny negative feelings and publicly present completely opposite images, this may be classified as reaction formation. Searching for a Cause Theological Explanations - Explanations within specific denominations or religious groups may vary according to the theological interpretation of each religious leader - Religious leaders must have a grasp of the issues involved in counseling parents of children with intellectual disab
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