Paternal versus maternal coping styles with child diagnosis of developmental delay

Res Dev Disabil. 2013 Jun;34(6):2040-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ridd.2013.02.026. Epub 2013 Apr 11.


Parents of children with disabilities vary in their reaction to their children's diagnosis. The current study focused on fathers in addition to mothers and examined their resolution and coping styles when having children diagnosed with developmental delay (DD). Sixty-five fathers and 71 mothers were interviewed using the reaction to the diagnosis interview (RDI; Pianta & Marvin, 1992a). Results indicated that the majority of parents were unresolved with their child's diagnosis, with no differences found between fathers' and mothers' rates of resolution. Furthermore, both parents of children that were diagnosed at a later age and parents that were less educated tended to be unresolved, as did fathers of a lower socioeconomic status. Older age of both children and mothers was related to maternal lack of resolution. Finally, an in-depth examination revealed significant differences in the manner in which fathers and mothers cope with their children's diagnosis: whereas mothers were more prone to using an emotional coping style, fathers tended to use a cognitive coping style. The clinical implications of paternal versus maternal coping styles are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / psychology*
  • Fathers / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological