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Evid Based Nurs 6:29 doi:10.1136/ebn.6.1.29
  • Qualitative

Review: mothers of children with physical or mental disabilities experience emotional compromise between acceptance and denial


 
 QUESTION: What are the experiences of mothers of children with physical or mental disabilities?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching CINAHL, Medline, PsycINFO, ERIC, Sociological Abstracts, and Dissertation Abstracts.

Study selection

Qualitative studies about mothering children with physical or mental disabilities were selected. Children could be of any age and have any condition.

Data extraction

Key phrases, themes, concepts, or metaphors from each study were listed and juxtaposed in tables. Studies were translated into one another and synthesised.

Main findings

12 studies were included. The process of mothering entailed 4 steps. (1) Becoming the mother of a disabled child. Timing: mothers of newborns with obvious anomalies held diminished roles as staff cared for their infants. Mothers felt frustrated when staff made decisions about their ability to cope and when staff provided a false protection. When a child’s disability was discovered, mothers had to deal with the loss of the “normal” child and acceptance of a different child. Emotions: emotions commonly expressed by mothers were injustice, fear, anxiety, grief, shock, disappointment, despair, and guilt. (2) Negotiating a new kind of mothering. The learning curve: …

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