Gendered positioning of parental attitudes to children with neuro-developmental disorders
Do mothers and fathers have different perspectives on the neurodevelopmental delays of their children? Do these shift with time? Preliminary research, and some existing literature suggests this is the case.
Gender parity in childcare is greater where children are not disabled. Mothers shoulder an even higher proportion of the childcare burden when there is a disabled child in the family than when there is not.
Several scholars have criticised published research on parents of disabled children for being ‘gender-blind’. Studies of neurodevelopmental conditions using parent reported data frequently refer to ‘parents’ when the vast majority of participants responding are mothers. However, ‘gender-blind’ criticisms that have been levelled at publications in the field of disability studies and education remain unquantified. This study aims to carry out a systematic review of studies dealing with parental reports of children’s neuro-disabilities in the medical literature, checking source data to ascertain to what extent the term ‘parent’ is really euphemistic for ‘mothers’.
Previous criticisms of ‘gender-blind’ research have often neglected to explore what the differences between mothers’ and fathers’ positions might be. A small body of research suggests that mothers and fathers may have distinct views, parenting styles and agendas.
In order to clarify, a qualitative pilot study will explore differences in the views and experiences of mothers and fathers in intact families who have a least one child with neurodevelopmental delay. The project aims to explore what qualitative differences in positions exist, and whether these differences are under-exposed in the reporting of disability research.