The only-child adolescent's lived experience of parental divorce
Dorfman, Dayle Hayley
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The aim of this study was to explore and describe the experience of an only-child adolescent’s lived experience of parental divorce. Gestalt field and phenomenological theory in conjunction with current literature provided an overview of the theoretical underpinnings pertaining to the study. A qualitative research approach with a case study of an only-child adolescent dealing with parental divorce was conducted in an ethical manner by means of two face to face, one-on-one, in depth interviews. Two main themes were identified. The first being experienced feelings associated with grief and bereavement, which revealed feelings of anger in the notion that the participant’s childhood was lost as a result of the divorce and being caught between the parental conflicts. The participant seemed to take it upon herself to take care of those significant to her in fear that she would lose them and that the loss would continue to be repeated. It was further revealed that when the only-child adolescent felt a loss of her own identity she in turn felt out of control. The second theme identified was; experience pressure due to being an only-child. Pressure in being an only-child was very significant surrounding the participant. The participant shared a great deal of feelings pertaining to feeling lonely and longing for a sibling. As parents in divorce situations seem to be focussed on their divorce often the child suffers from stress and the unrealistic expectations parents often have surrounding their children. In this study the only-child could not seem to cope with the pressure and in times of despair made use of coping mechanisms, mainly that of cutting to compensate for the emotional pain experienced. The researcher is of the opinion that the study delivered new found awareness into the only-child adolescent’s lived experience of parental divorce and is in hope that the new found results are utilised as a platform for further studies about this vulnerable population.
- Humanities