Coping Strategies and Caring Styles of Parents of Children With Mental Retardation (The Case of Four Parents)

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Addis Ababa University


The purpose of this study was generally to identify the condition of parental coping strategy and caring styles toward their children with MR. Specificall y, it trie to identi fy and de cribe parental coping strategies and caring styles toward the di sabling condition of their child with MR and parenting that child with the objective of developing the cognitive quality of their retarded children, respectively. Information! data about the four cases of the parents and their coping and caring condition is collected mainly from mothers of the children with MR. through interview and informal home observation methods. Two of the four cases of the parents (Case 1 &4) had been out of Addis Ababa and were not getting educational services for their children with MR during the past years though currently they are in the verge of getting educational service at Kokebe Tsebah primary School, Addis Ababa, like the other two cases-l &3 . A qualitative research design and analysis was appl ied to respond for the statement of the problem, or the major research question of this study. SO, the findings of this study is presented and analyzed accordingly. Parental coping resources types (e.g. personality type or self esteem of the parents and other characteristics of the parents, their disabled child and his/her disability) and other family factors (e .g. their interaction & functional system and their attitude toward MR) and life experience of the parents with professionals are a mediating factor of coping strategies toward disability and caring the children with MR. For example, interview report in this study revealed that only one mother of a female child with mild level of MR is currently more able to cope up positively with the disability and behaviour problems of her child than ever before by consulting professionals regarding the problems of her di sabled child. So, this mother is not always practicing physical punishment against her disabled child as in the past though she practices it now rarel y. The other child with moderate MR is still punished by her sister so that the child's mother is always complaining about such a wrong action of the child's sister that made the child's mother unable to cope up with it. Even though all parents try to teach their children with MR at home, they are not as expected as to teach frequently their own retarded child at home and to create a favorable environment to satisfy the educational needs of their retarded child at home. The degree of direct involvement of the parents and other family members in teaching their disabled children seems to vary according to the educational status of each cases of the parents and the existence of sisters or brothers of a disabl ed child who can take the responsibility of teaching and caring their di abl ed child at hom . In add ition to thi , all parents of the children with MR are not using enough teaching and play mat ri al and are practicing the teaching process at home info rmally without r ce iving profe ional ervice or supervision during the invo lvement of the parents in cari ng and teaching their retarded children at home. Physical puni shment, not reinforcement, for the behavior probl em and wrong acts of the children with MR in the proce s of carin g and teaching th e child is more usually practiced against the female children with MR than against the male children with MR .. Parents of male children with MR have also wish to send their children for in stitutional care-which is the reflection of maladaptive coping strategy and being unab le to care tho e children at home, properly. Since these physically abused children with MR are not perfect to receive all the instructions told by their caretakers or their fa mily members, it was reported that mother of the female child with mild MR and sister of the female child with moderate level of MR. had practiced physical punishment against those female disabled children at least once in a week in the past. Therefore, all parents of the children with MR (except Case 1) are not able to cope up positively with the disabling conditions of their children and to care their children with MR properly and in teaching style.



Coping Strategies, Caring Styles