Down syndrome and fathering: An exploration of ambiguous loss

Gail E. Bentley, Anisa Zvonkovic, Michael McCarty, Nicole Springer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Fathers of children with Down syndrome (DS) described their attitudes and coping behaviors, responses were evaluated in the context of Ambiguous Loss theory, using a person-oriented, mixed-methods approach. In general, the fathers expressed the ambiguity of loving the child they had while mourning a life they may have anticipated. Three clusters of fathers (Mastering, Connecting, and Thriving) were identified and described. Mastering cluster fathers used action-oriented coping strategies to manage their life. Connecting cluster fathers engaged in outreach activities related to DS. Thriving cluster fathers embraced their life and reframed their experiences as giving them a sense of purpose or higher meaning. Ambiguous loss theory provided a non-deficit lens to better understand this group of fathers of children with DS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Ambiguous loss
  • Cluster analysis
  • Down syndrome
  • Fathering
  • Mixedmethod


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