Resilience as authoritative knowledge: The Experiences of single mothers of children with disabilitiesedit
There is a substantial body of literature that explores family adaptation within the context of childhood disability. However, closer analysis indicates that the primary focus of this research has concentrated on two-parent family systems. Despite evi- dence to suggest that single mothers are more likely to be parenting children with disabilities, their experiences have received minimal attention within social science research. Furthermore, when single mothers do become the focus of study, much of the attention is directed toward identifying the deficits within their family systems. Grounded in family resilience theory, the intent of this study was to explore the fam- ily adaptation of single mothers of children with disabilities within a longitudinal framework, and to identify the individual, family, social,and environmental factors that contribute toward resilience within this population. Concepts of family resilience were revealed by mothers who challenged definitions of single mothers as inadequate, who disputed the definition of their children as “disabled,” and who moved from a position of received to authoritative knowledge.The study demonstrates in contrast to public perceptions, single mothers of children with disabilities view their experiences as personally transformative and as means of building confidence that empowers them to further disrupt negative expectations of their families.