Adults' experience of coping with parental divorce during childhood : a phenomenological perspective
Du Plooy, Jacobus Christoffel
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Divorce has long been described as one of the most stressful experiences that any human being can ever experience. The process of divorce implies numerous sudden and highly stressful changes to any individual affected by it, including children. The literature review of the present study revealed valuable insight regarding the effects of divorce, in particular on children. The studies among them which were found to have identified some of the more detrimental implications of divorce for children in particular, included the studies by Jonsson, Njardvik, Olafsdottir and Gretarsson (2000); Eldar-Avidan, Haj-Yahia and Greenbaum (2009); and Yu, Pettit, Lansford, Dodge and Bates (2010). Despite numerous research studies having been done on the phenomena of divorce both in South Africa and globally, it appears that the majority of these studies mostly focused on its detrimental implications for both children and adults. Few of these studies were found to have focused on possible optimal implications or on effective coping with divorce. Some studies that were found to have touched on the potential optimal effects of parental divorce included the studies by Mullis, Mullis, Schwartz, Pease and Shriner (2007); Graff-Reed (N.D.); and Spalding and Pretorius (2001). One particularly influential study that was, however, identified to have been done on the phenomena of coping with parental divorce, was conducted by Roux (2007) who focused specifically on children’s coping with parental divorce. This study focused exclusively on children and involved interviews with children themselves at the time of their parents’ divorce. No research could be identified on how young adults in South Africa had attempted to cope with their parents’ divorce during their childhood and/or adolescent years. This determination led to an attempt to fill this apparent void in the literature and expand on the study that had been conducted by Roux (2007) by completing the present study. The focus of the present study subsequently fell on how young adults had coped with the divorce of their parents during their childhood and/or adolescent years. The aims of the present study were: * To investigate and obtain a clearer understanding of young adults’ coping with divorce during their childhood and/or adolescent years. * To determine if there were factors that played a role in coping with parental divorce. * To determine what recommendations could be made to the parents of children undergoing divorce. * To determine what recommendations could be made to children while undergoing parental divorce. The research questions that were included in the present study for the aforementioned purpose included the following: * How did young adults cope with the divorce of their parents during their childhood and/or adolescent years? * Were there factors that played a role in their coping and if so what were the factors? * What would they recommend to the parents of children during and after divorce? * What would they recommend to children during and after parental divorce? Semi-structured retrospective interviews were conducted with 15 participants in the completion of the present study. Each of these interviews where transcribed and the relevant data were analysed from these transcriptions by firstly reading of the protocols, followed by dividing them into natural meaning units (NMUs), performing linguistic transformation, integrating the NMUs with related themes, synthesising the data and developing a general description before it was finally documented and published. Selection of the participants was made by means of snowball sampling, as young adults nominated acquaintances whom they believed may also be willing to participate in the research (Whitley, 2002). The value of the present study was that it expanded the knowledge base regarding young adults’ coping with parental divorce during their childhood and/or adolescent years. It also culminated in the creation of a set of recommendations for both children and adults that would promote effective coping among them with parental divorce. It is hoped that these insights and recommendations will enable psychologists, social workers, counsellors, health care practitioners and/or any other individual/s involved with assisting families during divorce, to cope more effectively with this event. It is also hoped that further future research and follow-up studies into this particularly relevant and far reaching phenomenon will continue to be conducted by other researchers both in South Africa and abroad.
- Humanities