““Parenting a child with disabilities is sometimes more than I can handle. I could really use the church’s help.” ”
Parents of children with disabilities experience numerous challenges. Faith and spirituality are important resources for coping with difficult circumstances. Despite having rich spiritual resources to offer, evidence suggests that support from faith-based communities can be muted. Previous work by the researcher (LM) indicated that when churches fail to support parents of disabled children, parents may withdraw from church participation altogether.
Using a phenomenological research design involving in-depth interviewing, this study will explore the faith journeys and spiritual care needs of twenty parents raising children with disabilities. Half of the sample will be parents who identify as active church members, while the remaining ten participants will be parents who have withdrawn from church participation. Interviews will be transcribed verbatim and analyzed for emerging themes. Participants will be recruited from multi-denominational Canadian churches, agencies supporting families and children with disabilities, as well as through social media. The results of this study will offer insight into church participation, faith journeys, and corresponding spiritual care needs of parents raising children with disabilities. Improved understanding of the experiences and needs of caregiving parents will allow churches to better support families raising children with disabilities, and may transfer to improved inclusion and support for caregivers more broadly.