Integrating Care And Paid Work – The Career Development Of Parents Of People With Disabilities In Brazil

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Integrating Care And Paid Work – The Career Development Of Parents Of People With Disabilities In Brazil

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Parenting a person with disabilities (PWD) is an experience that transforms one’s beliefs, family relationships, social connections, financial stability, and professional trajectory. Parents of PWD engage in what scholars call exceptional care – intense, lifelong, cyclical, and crisis-driven care. For them, caring is a central part of their lives, crossing boundaries between family and work domains and driving most of these parents’ career decisions. Studies show that parents of PWD often experience heightened work-family conflict and physical, emotional, and financial stress. Significantly, individuals identifying as women are disproportionally impacted as they assume most of the care work. Nevertheless, employment is critical for these parents’ financial and mental health, as work provides necessary income and personal fulfillment. This study applied a grounded theory methodology to investigate how Brazilian parents of PWD make career decisions to accommodate care and paid work, also examining the systemic factors that influence these decisions. In-depth interviews were conducted with 27 college-educated mothers and fathers of PWD to map their career trajectories and main career decisions. The findings of this study contribute to advancing and integrating career development and work-life theories, highlighting the importance of social identities and organizational and social dynamics. New frameworks are proposed to explain how parents of PWD, and potentially other caregivers, make ongoing career decisions and manage their family and work arrangements to attain more satisfactory work-life relationships. Additionally, this study offers practical implications for career development professionals, HRD practitioners in organizations, and public policymakers on how to support the professional development of caregivers.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. April 2024. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Alexandre Ardichvili. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 199 pages.

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