Over the past twenty years or so, fathers have become more involved in the care of their children. This means that fathers have also become more involved if a child in the family has a chronic illness or disability. These days, fathers often spend just as much time and energy as mothers witnessing a child's pain, taking off work to care for a child who doesn't feel well, or spending money on medication.
Even though the role of the father has changed, there is not a lot of information available on how taking care of a child with a chronic illness may impact you, as a father. There are many important questions to be answered such as, "How do you react to a child's illness as compared to the child's mother?" or "How does your experience as a father compare to other fathers who are caring for only healthy children?"
More attention is beginning to be paid to the psychological and social impact of illness on a family, and the toll an illness can take on fathers is one of the areas to be explored. There is recent research to support the idea that fathers of children with chronic illness do differ from fathers of healthy children in several important ways. In one study, 80 fathers of children with a chronic illness were compared to 80 fathers of healthy children. The researchers found that fathers of children with chronic illnesses experienced a greater number of stressful life events and had lower self-esteem as compared to the fathers of healthy children.
For Father's Day, I would like to offer you a place you can go where fathers raising children with special health care needs are celebrated and supported. It is called the Fathers Network. You can visit www.fathersnetwork.org to find out more information.
On behalf of mothers everywhere, thank you for all that you do.
And happy Fathers Day.
Published On: June 10, 2008