The up side of Down syndrome and fathering: An exploration of hope, satisfaction, and coping



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This study was founded on a non-deficit model and utilized the theory of ambiguous loss in exploring the attitudes of hope and satisfaction of fathers of children with Down syndrome (DS); both at the time when they received their child's diagnosis and at the time of data collection. Using a person oriented mixed methods approach, a cluster analysis was used to examine how attitudes of fathers may be related to coping strategies and behaviors. Three clusters were identified from the sample of 50 fathers and were subsequently named: CL1- Hoping, CL2- Connecting, and CL3- Thriving. Further understanding of the clusters was found as a result of the qualitative directed content analysis of text responses. The Hoping and Thriving clusters were significantly and qualitatively different from each other. The Hoping cluster experienced ambiguity and loss of the child they expected to have, yet, they charged ahead with an action oriented approach towards acceptance; while pushing to help their child reach their fullest potential. The Connecting cluster, which is the largest cluster, demonstrated a sense of cause for outreach in the DS community and were united with others by their child’s diagnosis. The Thriving cluster was the most successful at reframing their experience and creating positive meaning in the midst of the ambiguity of their child’s diagnosis; while embracing the life they are living.



Fathers, Down syndrome, Coping, Cluster analysis, Ambiguous loss