A Qualitative Study of Men’s Experience of Being a Father in Families with Childhood Disability


Fathers in families with childhood disability have an important role in fostering coping and resilience in children. Insight into men’s thoughts about fathering is necessary to provide family-centered interventions. The purpose of this study was to explore men’s experience of being a father in families with childhood disability. Qualitative interviews were conducted with seven fathers in families with childhood disability. Content analysis was applied to analyze the data. The participants described their thoughts about children’s needs; mastery, secure attachment, clear boundaries, positive emotions, and role models. Creating a father-child unity, being active, playful, fearless, and sometimes restraint was described as fathering behaviors aiming to meet these needs. However, personal, family, and social factors were described as influencing fathers’ behaviors. Fathers’ psychological wellbeing was described to be affected by the childhood disability to different degrees, and emotional triggers related to the disability were described. Participants described using a variety of emotion regulation strategies, but somewhat restraint support seeking behavior. We conclude that the health and social welfare system should involve fathers in the provision of services to children, empower them in their role as fathers, and provide support tailored to their needs.


Vatne, T. M., Haukeland, Y. B., Dahle, S.S., & Fjermestad, K. W