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Psychological Acceptance Mediates the Impact of the Behaviour Problems of Children with Intellectual Disability on Fathers’ Psychological Adjustment

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Background 

Previous research with mothers of children with intellectual disabilities has shown that psychological acceptance is related to maternal psychological well-being. The present research extended this line of enquiry to fathers and explored the potential for psychological acceptance to mediate the impact of children’s behaviour problems on paternal well-being. Method 

Ninety-nine fathers of 67 boys and 32 girls with intellectual disability, between 6 and 18 years of age, participated in a questionnaire study. Psychological acceptance of difficult/negative emotions and thoughts associated with interactions with the child with intellectual disability were measured alongside ratings of the child’s behaviour problems and paternal negative (stress, anxiety, depression) and positive (‘positive gain’) well-being. Results 

Psychological acceptance was found to partially mediate the impact of child behaviour problems on paternal stress, anxiety, and depression. Acceptance was also a positive predictor of fathers’ perceptions of positive gain associated with raising their child with intellectual disability. However, it could not function as a potential mediator of positive gain in the present research because fathers’ ratings of their child’s behaviour problems were not associated with paternal positive gain. Conclusions 

Implications for practice include the potential of acceptance-based interventions, and other psychological interventions targeting acceptance and avoidance processes (e.g. mindfulness-based approaches), to positively affect paternal psychological adjustment.
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Keywords: acceptance; avoidance; behaviour problems; fathers; parenting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: St Michael’s House Services, Dublin, Ireland 2: School of Psychology, University of Wales Bangor, Bangor, UK 3: St John of God Services, Dublin, Ireland

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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