• Motunrayo ARIYO
  • Abolanle LASODE


Influence, child, intellectual disability, marital stability, Nigeria


Marriages that are able to produce children are considered fruitful in Nigeria, and most often this determines the stability of such marriages. In Nigeria, it was observed that when a child is born with a disability, there is the tendency for the home to experience low level of instability. This study investigated the influence of the presence of a child with intellectual disability on marital stability in Nigeria. One hundred and five (105) parents of children with intellectual disability purposively selected from Lagos and Ibadan, Nigeria, participated in the study. A structured questionnaire developed by the researchers was used in collecting data. The findings showed that the majority of the parents (65.7%) were overwhelmingly shattered and (81.9%) were in a state of shock at the initial discovery of the child with intellectual disability, this however, surprisingly, did not affect their marital stability, rather, it further brought them closely together. The study also revealed that the siblings of the child with ID (75.2%) accepted and loved them which further strengthened the relationship, and as high as 85.0% of parents in-laws were not for separation or divorce of the couples. Howbeit, 45.7% of parent’s in-laws did not support the couples psychologically and emotionally. Educating parents on factors that can be responsible for having a child with intellectual disabilities and parental counseling should therefore be encouraged so that preventive measures can be taken and families can maximally enjoy marital stability without much stress.


Agulana, G. G. (1999). Family structure and prevalence of behaviour problems among Nigeria Adolescents. The counsellor, 17(1), 154-159.

American Association on Intellectual Disabilities (2013). Definition of Intellectual Disability. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 118(6), 1

Blacher, J. (2011). Segmential stages of parental adjustment to the birth of a child with handicaps: fact and artifact? Mental retardation, 22(2), 55-68.

Brinchann, B. S. (1999). When the home becomes a prison: Living with a severely disabled child. Nursing Ethics, 6, 137-143.

Cherlin, A. J. (2002). Public and Private Families: An Introduction 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc, New York.

Ferguson, P. M. (2002). A place in the Family: A historical Interpretation of Research on Parental Reactions to Having Child with a Disability. Journal of Special Education, 36, 124-136

Gabel, H., McDowell, J., & Cerreto, M.C. (1983). Family adaptation to the handicapped infant. In S.G. Garwood & R.R. Fewell (Eds.), Educating handicapped infants (pp. 455-493). Rockville, MD: Aspen.

Griffin, K. L. (2000, February 28). Parental break time. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, p. 1G.

Ikenyiri, E. (2013). The family as a major course of behaviour problems of the Nigerian Child. In R. O. Nnach and P. S Ezeh (Eds). The Behaviour Problems of the Nigeria Child. Eruditi publishers. Awka

Lehrer E.L. (1996). The Determinants of Marital Stability: A Comparative Analysis of First and Higher Order Marriages. In Schultz TP (Eds.) Research in Population Economics 8, JAI Press, Greenwich 91-121

Leimbach, M. (2006, March 5). Keeping it together: Parenting. The Sunday Times (UK), p. 10.

Mgbenkemdi, H. E (2013). The Role of Marital Stress and Gender in Depression Among Parents with Mentally Retarded Children. Journal of Social Sciences and Public Policy, 5(2) 22-29.

Morrod, D. (2004). Make or break – Who cares for couples when their children are sick. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19, 247-263.

Odewumi, S. G. (2000). Problems of Census in Nigeria. In Tayo Odunmosu, Wole Atere, and Funmi Adewunmi (Eds), Social Problems and Social Works in Nigeria. Center for planning studies, Lagos State University. Page 151

Pabst, H. F. (1995). Parents are in need of support. The Bioethics Bulletin. 7, 3-4.

Robinson, N. M., & Robinson, H.B. (1976). The mentally retarded child (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Sobsey, D. (2004). Marital Stability and Marital Satisfaction in Families of Children with Disabilities: Chicken or Egg? Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 32(1), 62-83

Streiner, D. L. & Norman, G. R. (1989). Health Measurement Scales; A practical Guide to their Development and Use. New York: Oxford University press. Pp 64-65

Teachman J. D. (2002) Stability Across Cohorts in Divorce Risk Factors. Demography, 39, 331-351

Thompson, C. E. (2000). Raising a Handicapped Child. New York, NY. Oxford University Press. Inc

U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Report P23-180. (1992). Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the 1990s. Washington DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Weiner, M.B. (1991, November 6). Stress of raising disabled children often leads to breakup of families. The Orange County Register, p. A16.

White, Lynn K. & Rogers, Stephanie J. (2000). “Economic Circumstances and Family Outcomes: A Review of the 1990s.†Journal of Marriage and the Family 62(4), 1035- 1051.

World Health Organization (2008). disabilities2 pdf

Ziolko, M. E. (1991). Counseling parents of children with disabilities: A review of the literature and implications for practice. Journal of Rehabilitation, 57(2), 29-34.