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Maternal adaptation to parenting a child with asthma Taylor, Eileen M.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the adaptation of mothers to parenting an asthmatic child. Involving three co-researchers, a case study design was used to explore their experience of this phenomenon. The co-researchers were selected on the basis of these criteria: their child had been diagnosed with asthma within the last five years; the child's asthma had been diagnosed as "moderate" to "severe"; although more than one child in the family may have been diagnosed as asthmatic, it was possible to isolate the process of maternal adaptation to the one child; the mother had reached a point of feeling adequate in the role of mothering the asthmatic child. The participants were invited to create a lifeline of the experience, and to use this as a reference when describing the story of their adaptation. Upon completion of their narrative, questions were asked based on my pre-suppositions of the experience of adaptation, should these not have emerged previously during the interview. The narratives were audio-taped, transcribed, and analyzed for common emergent themes. Validiation interviews were conducted in order to confirm the emergent themes. An abstraction of one narrative, selected as representative of the three, was developed and validated by the co-researcher. This abstract portrayed the commonality of the process as well as the emergent themes. The study confirmed the existence of a process of adaptation marked by three phases. The stories revealed a movement from inadequacy to adequacy. The initial phase was dominated by negativity reflecting the mothers' sense of overwhelming impotence. The active middle phase, a phase of transition, was one in which the mothers increasingly became agents in the management of their child and their child's illness. This phase offered them opportunities to change their perception of themselves and their situation. The resolution of the middle phase placed the women in the final phase, where the themes of inadequacy found in the initial phase are opposed by the complementary positive themes of competency, strength and understanding. Underlying the themes contained within the three phases were ongoing themes which facilitated and provided a backdrop for this process. This study confirms the significant impact that the presence of an asthmatic child has on the life of the mother. The findings reveal the need for understanding and support from those around her as she struggles to gain a measure of control in this experience.

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