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Regrouping at the parental home : a grounded theory of female adult children's experiences of returning home to live Paseluikho, Michele A.

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative research study was to describe female adult children's experiences when they return to the parental home to live, and to develop theory to explain the processes and consequences involved in the return to the parental home. Primary data sources included 1 1/2 hour audiotaped, semi-structured interviews with 15 female adult children who had returned to the parental home to live. Other sources of data included individual and conjoint interviews with parents and daughters from a subset of four families, and field notes about the interviews. Grounded theory methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1990, 1998) was used. Transcribed interviews were systematically analyzed to develop a theoretical model, in which the core social and psychological process was labelled "regrouping." In response to life events and personal choices, women return to the parental home to regroup--to recuperate, reenergize, contemplate and pursue lifeplans. Their intention is to enhance personal well-being and to secure a better quality life in the future. Regrouping is embedded in the life context of female adult children's specific life-events and choices, living environments, family and social relationships, and sociocultural scripts -- all conditions that can hinder or facilitate the process. Regrouping is a cyclical rather than a linear process. Female adult children who had returned to the parental home did not experience a simple, uncomplicated linear forward movement towards attaining valued personal goals. Rather, they experienced an oscillating pattern of “faltering” and "advancing" in their efforts to realize valued goals. This experience has implications for the development of a fluctuating sense of self or self-image, the fulfilment of personal goals, the quality of the experience as positive or negative, and for family relations. The contribution of the theoretical model to the literature is the discovery that returning home in adulthood may be a strategy for managing change and transition in one's life and for attaining certain lifespan development tasks (e.g., individuating from parents, establishing a career, and attaining financial security). Implications for counselling practice, and the self-help needs of adults who have returned home to live are noted. Suggestions for facilitating returning adult children's personal development (i.e., clarifying personal goals, weighing the pros and cons of returning and remaining at the parental home, maintaining self-esteem, seeking social support) and facilitating family relations . (i.e, having realistic expectations of parents, being sensitive to mothers, negotiating privacy and boundaries, managing cross-cultural dynamics) are discussed. It is suggested that future research extend the application of the theory to men, as well as more diverse ethnic groups.

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