Disability and the self-reliant family: Revisiting the literature on parents with disabilities

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11 Scopus citations


An estimated 8.4 million adults with disabilities have children under age 18 living with them. Despite the large number of adults with disabilities engaged in parenting, studies of parents with disabilities have been relatively scarce, though the number is growing. This article reviews the literature on parents with disabilities as a whole and elaborates three themes relevant to parental support and care: parental capacity, young carers, and social networks. Also discussed are key concepts from the feminist and disability studies literature that can form the basis for a theoretical framework to guide research on parents with disabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalMarriage and Family Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
An early version of this article was presented at the 2007 American Sociological Association meeting in New York City. During the writing of this manuscript, the author was supported by a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Pre-doctoral Traineeship. The author thanks the anonymous reviewers for their detailed comments and suggestions. This manuscript benefited greatly from them.


  • Caregiving
  • Disability studies
  • Parents with disabilities
  • Sociology of disability


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