A practice framework to facilitate reciprocal responsibility in the parent-adolescent relationship
Jacobs, Isabella Fredrika
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Through the literature review on the parent-adolescent relationship, it became apparent that research mainly has a unidirectional focus on the relationship where parents are held responsible for the well-being of the parent-adolescent relationship. This is in direct contrast with many calls that have been made to focus the parent-adolescent relationship on the mutual (reciprocal) responsibility that parents and adolescents should take for their relationship. It was around this caveat in research that the current study was motivated. It was envisaged that conceptualising a practice framework to facilitate reciprocal responsibility in the parent-adolescent relationship, would not only build on the current knowledge base of the topic, but also offer intervention guidelines for social workers and other professionals, as well as create opportunities for future research in the field of family relationships. The focus of the study was not to prove that reciprocal responsibility does not exist or that parents and adolescents do not take reciprocal responsibility for the well-being of their relationship, but to approach it in a way where equal attention was given to parents’ and adolescents’ contribution to the well-being of their relationship. This qualitative descriptive study was executed in a series of five steps. Step one consisted of the development of a proposal as well as an in-depth literature review which was important for the literature building essential for the conceptualisation of the practice framework. In step two, data were collected by means of semi-structured interviews with parents and adolescents as well as through involving parents and adolescents in sessions based on the Intergenerational Group Reflective Technique (IGRT). Step three involved the conceptualisation of the practice framework which was done by integrating information gathered from the literature review, findings from the data and useful features that were identified from models, programmes, frameworks and research. During step four social workers, working in the field of family relations, were invited to give their expert opinion on the conceptualised practice framework during reflective group discussions. Step five involved finalising of and reporting on the practice framework. During the semi-structured interviews parents and adolescents were asked to share their views on taking and experiencing reciprocal responsibility in their relationship. Three main themes were identified: Reciprocal responsibility practised through dialogic relating, by initiating values, norms and family rituals and reciprocal responsibility achieved by way of parent and adolescent specific contributions. During the IGRT parents and adolescents were asked to share their views on what parents and adolescents should contribute in order to take reciprocal responsibility for the well-being of their relationship. Parents expect adolescents to understand the parental dimension to care and to guide, and adolescents need to take parents’ needs into consideration. Adolescents expect their parents to understand their developmental stage and not to underestimate their abilities. From the semi-structured interviews and the IGRT it was clear that the following aspects should be incorporated into the practice framework: Principles of dialogic relating and a commitment to the dialogue; autonomy-enhancing parenting styles and a proactive approach to parenting; and adolescents need to understand and accept that parents have their best interest at heart while parents need to understand adolescents’ developmental issues such as the importance of friends.
- Health Sciences