Positive and challenging themes in parents’ perceptions of their relationships with their child with autism: Comparison between mothers and fathers

Shir Moshe, David Oppenheim, Michal Slonim, Lior Hamburger, Yael Maccabi, Nurit Yirmiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most studies of how parents of children with autism see the parent-child relationship used questionnaires completed by the parents and focused on challenges. This study broadened the lens by interviewing parents using open-ended questions that provide an opportunity to raise challenging but also positive experiences. Seventy-five mother-father dyads were interviewed individually about their own and their spouses' relationships with their preschooler, and we found nine relationship themes. In descending order, the themes mentioned most frequently by mothers were "Security and Closeness," "Love," and "Tenderness and Sensitivity," and by fathers were "Pleasure in Joint Activities," "Security and Closeness," and "Guidance." Positive themes were more common than challenging themes. Finally, more mothers mentioned the themes "Love," "Tenderness and Sensitivity," "High Involvement and Care," and "Difficulties" than did fathers, whereas more fathers mentioned the themes "Guidance" and "Pleasure in Joint Activities" than did mothers. The findings portray a nuanced view of the parenting experience of mothers and fathers of preschoolers with autism.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalAutism
Early online date13 Jul 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2023.

Keywords

  • autism
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • fathers
  • mothers
  • parents’ perspectives
  • parent–child relationship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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