Gina Glidden and Sylvie Tétreault
Help-seeking to assist with the care of their child is common for parents who co-parent their child with neurodisabilities (ND), yet little is known about how such a journey unfolds. This article presents the Journey of Ladders and Snakes, a theoretical representation of the help-seeking experience of mothers and fathers, living together or apart, who co-parent their child with ND. Mothers and fathers from 6 co-parenting dyads each participated in individual, semi-structured interviews about their process of help-seeking for their child and for themselves within informal (e.g., family, friends) and formal (e.g., health and social service organizations) networks of support. Designed, conducted, and analyzed according to Constructive Grounded Theory principles, the study’s results describe: (i) a highly emotive help-seeking journey that stems from a place of grief, encompassing complementary parent roles that were experienced as both exhaustingly demanding and connecting; (ii) ladders and snakes that aided and/or challenged help-seeking; (iii) gendered differences in their experience of the help-seeking process; (iv) gaps in the availability of meaningful supports. This study takes into account the voices of both mothers and fathers, highlighting the importance of understanding the experiences of both parents, individually and as co-seekers, in order to provide optimum support.