Appreciating Life: Being the Father of a Child with Severe Cerebral Palsy

Document Type

Review Article

Publication Date


Journal / Book Title

Journal of Neuroscience Nursing


This phenomenological study examined the experience of being the father of a child with severe cerebral palsy (CP). Participants were selected using purposive sampling. Two interviews were conducted with 6 English-speaking, biological fathers whose children with CP (ages 5Y27 years) were enrolled in a residential and day school in northeastern United States. Audiotaped interviews were transcribed, and thematic analysis was conducted using van Manen's methodology. Themes identified were as follows: Lost in birth; My beautiful unique child; Illness as a way of lifeIyou can't get used to it and after a while it feels like no one cares; PartnersVloyalty and commitment; How the world receives my child; Healthcare providersVI'm here; TornIwhen your child can't live at homeIfinding a place to live and grow; and Faith. Clinicians should encourage, value, and include fathers' input during discussions of medical and social problems and when developing long-term care plans. Further research exploring the experiences of fathers of children with CP should be conducted.



Published Citation

Appelbaum, M. G., & Smolowitz, J. L. (2012). Appreciating life: being the father of a child with severe cerebral palsy. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 44(1), 36-42.