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Understanding and perceptions of parenting skills of persons with mental handicaps Maherali, Zuleikha Ahmed


The purpose of this study was to investigate the understanding and the perceptions of parenting skills of persons with mental handicaps and their perceptions of the quality and the availability of support services. Parenting skills were considered in terms of nutritional and meal planning skills, discipline and behaviour management, home safety and emergency and interaction and social stimulation. Supports were considered of in terms of formal and family services. An open-ended questionnaire was used to interview 25 mentally handicapped mothers. Findings indicated that mothers perceived the process of disciplining and providing a stimulating environment as the most difficult aspect of parenting. In terms of the support services, mothers were generally satisfied with the availability and sources of formal support. However, in terms of the quality of formal support, mothers indicated that such support should be modified to meet their needs. Mothers' perceptions of family support were differentially affected by their marital status. The presence of a spouse in the home and the opportunity to interact with extended family members were two factors which affected the quality of family support. In two-parent families, spousal support enabled the mothers to deal more effectively with their children. Findings also indicated that support from extended families was not available to most mothers.

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