Communication professor Sarah Parsloe recently received a top paper award in the Family Communication Division at the 2019 annual meeting of the National Communication Association (NCA) Conference in Baltimore. The paper—“I was a traditional male until he came along”: Responding to disrupted discourses of fatherhood while raising a child with Sturge-Weber Syndrome"—was completed with co-authors Stephanie Tikkanen and Brittany Peterson from Ohio University.
The study examines the experiences of fathers of children living with Sturge-Weber Syndrome, a rare health condition that affects blood-vessel development. Findings from this interview-based interpretive study reveal that fathers constructed expectations of fatherhood around the hypermasculine ideals of competition, control, and stoicism. Disruptions to these expectations prompted fathers to reappraise and reframe their ideas of fatherhood and to develop communicative strategies that cultivate a “growth mindset.” These findings offer practical implications for helping fathers of children with medically complex needs both survive and thrive as parents.
The National Communication Association’s annual conference is one of the largest academic conferences for scholars of communication in the world, typically seeing more than 5,000 in attendance. Parsloe’s paper was judged to be one of the top four papers submitted to the conference’s Family Communication Division.