Problem Statement: The relationship between parent and child plays a fundamental role in the social and emotional development of the child. Parental acceptance-rejection behavior may be critical in shaping the quality of the affective bond between parent and child and is established within the specific contexts of the parent-child environment. Psychological, socioeconomic, and other difficulties introduced into family life by having a child with mental disability may affect parental acceptance-rejection levels. Difficulties resulting from the disability and related social pressures and expectations might also influence child-rearing attitudes.
Purpose of Study: To investigate the correlation between parents’ acceptance-rejection of their children with mental disability (7-12 years of age) and their child-rearing attitudes in relation to sociodemographic variables.
Method: A total of 234 fathers and 129 mothers of children with mental disability (7-12 years of age) were included via a random sampling method in this relational screening modeled study. Data were collected via the Parental Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire (PARQ/C) and the Parental Attitude Research Instrument (PARI) to assess parental acceptance-rejection behavior and parents’ attitudes towards their children, respectively.
Findings and Results: A positive correlation was found between the PARI dependency subscale and the PARQ/C subscales of warmth/affection and undifferentiated rejection and control. The PARI subscale of rejection of the homemaking role was positively correlated to the PARQ/C subscales of hostility, indifference/neglect, undifferentiated rejection and control, and to the PARQ/C total score. The PARI marital conflict subscale was significantly correlated to the PARQ/C subscales of hostility, indifference/neglect, undifferentiated rejection and control and to the PARQ/C total score. The PARI strictness and authoritarianism subscale was significantly correlated to the PARQ/C subscales of hostility/aggression, indifference/neglect, undifferentiated rejection and control and to the PARQ/C total score.
In conclusion, our findings indicate a positive association between acceptance-rejection behaviors and child-rearing attitudes of parents of children with mental disabilities and highlight the impact of the gender and the educational status of the parents, but not the gender of the child, on parental acceptance-rejection behavior and child-rearing attitudes.
Recommendations: Future studies may include children with varying disabilities from different age groups and socioeconomic backgrounds, which may provide data on the likelihood of change in parental behaviors in relation to the age of the child, type of disability, and family’s socioeconomic status. Comparisons between parents of children with normal development and with disability in relation to parental acceptance-rejection behavior and child-rearing attitudes would contribute to improvement of services provided for parents of children with disability.
Keywords: children with mental disability, acceptance- rejection, child-rearing attitudes, mother, father