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Parenting Adolescents with Developmental Disability: Exploring “The Stigma of Bad Parenting”

Manoj Joseph


This paper examines various sources of parental blame that result in the stigma of being a ‘bad parent’. Parental experience of stigma is studied predominantly by employing Goffman’s concept of courtesy stigma. It is presumed that although parents of children with disability do not per se possess any discrediting attributes, they experience stigma because of their association with a child with a disability. Based on parental accounts of caregiving from parents of ten children with developmental disabilities, this article demonstrates how parents become subject to the stigma of bad parenting. This study spells out different pathways from which parental blame stems and how they contribute to the moral burden of caregiving.

Keywords:Stigma, caregiving, disability, parenting


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