Fatherhood, co-parenting and disability: what are the experiences of fathers with disabilities in Quebec?

This research project stems from the need expressed by the Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité (RVP) to obtain a portrait of the reality of fathers with disabilities in Quebec. More specifically, the following themes emerged from the RVP’s concerns about fathers with disabilities: apprehensions, adaptation to the role of father (particularly paternal involvement), situations of vulnerability, facilitators and obstacles encountered at the family, institutional, social and political levels, as well as their experience of co-parenting. On this last point, the notion of co-parenting is based on the definition used by the RVP, while this research axis is one of their priorities: “adults, recognized as parents to the child, who act and communicate for the child’s well-being, regardless of their parenting reality” (Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité, 2023) and consists of four components: 1) communication between co-parents, 2) recognition of the other parent, 3) parental consistency, and 4) task sharing (inspired by Feinberg’s definition, 2003).

The objectives of the research project are to:

  1. describe the population of these fathers;
  2. document their experiences; and
  3. analyze the inclusion and representation of these fathers in public policy.

An exploratory study will address these objectives through a survey measuring the family reality of fathers with disabilities (n=150), individual interviews with fathers based on a life trajectory perspective (n=12), and a narrative review of the literature that will examine public policy in Quebec.

The organization Ex aequo – which has a file on parenting and disability – will act as a secondary partner for the project.


In the last 20 years, research has been conducted on the experiences of parents with disabilities, justified in part by the increased prevalence of this population internationally (Mercerat & Saïas, 2021a; Pituch et al., 2022). Furthermore, a review of the scientific literature reveals a form of over-representation of mothers in studies on parenting (Mercerat & Saïas, 2021a). Indeed, among the few Quebec studies on parents with disabilities, very few report data on fathers (Bergeron et al., 2012; Mercerat & Saïas, 2021b; Pituch, 2022). This lack of scientific data is compounded by a lack of statistical data, as the last statistical data from fathers with disabilities was collected in 1998 in Quebec (Camirand & Aubin, 2004). Consequently, the description of this population, as well as the experiences of fathers with disabilities, remain largely unknown. With the recent transformations in family realities, including increased paternal involvement in the family, it is difficult to know what to expect from fathers with disabilities.


Global progress
Creation of data collection tools + application for a research ethics certificate
Recruitment for the questionnaire and data analysis
Recruiting for interviews + conducting interviews and data analysis
Review and analysis of grey literature
    Team members

    Coralie Mercerat, Ph.D./Psy.D., Université TELUQ, Université du
    Québec à Montréal – Santé

    Marjorie Aunos, Ph.D., Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières,
    Brock University, International Association for the Scientific Study
    of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities – Groupe d’intérêt
    scientifique sur la parentalité – Société et culture

    Raymond Villeneuve, directeur général du Regroupement pour la Valorisation de la Paternité (RVP)
    Christine Couture, coordonnatrice de projets, RVP
    Daniel Lapalme, agent de liaison et formateur, RVP
    Janou Radilla, Agente de défense collective des droits – Dossier
    Parentalité, Ex aequo

    Evelina Pituch, erg., Ph.D., Département Health and Society,
    University of Toronto Scarborough
    Claude Vincent, erg., Ph.D., Département de réadaptation,
    Université Laval
    Normand Boucher, Ph.D., École de travail social et de
    criminologie, Université Laval

    Intersectoral collaboration agent
    Scientific sectors
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