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Through the eyes of adult children of divorce : a phenomenological approach to understanding the development of resilience McNeely, Carrie Anne

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the essence of the lived experience of resilient adult children of divorce and challenge the prevalence of positivist research, which examines divorce and resiliency as mutually exclusive phenomena. This study was embedded in an existential or constructivist perspective of reality, and conceptualized through application of family systems, socialist feminist, and risk and resiliency theories. The focus of this study was on young adults' perceptions of the process of their parents' divorce in an effort to identify the meanings they associated with the risk and protective factors they encountered growing up and the development of their self-defined resilient behaviours. The research process included in-depth retrospective interviews with adult children of divorce and an opportunity for them to provide feedback on the compilation of the data. The data were analyzed for descriptive statements relative to their structural and textural experiences, and for themes potentially related to the development of the co-researchers ' resilience. Their structural and textural experiences were found to triangulate with findings from prior studies, which also enhanced credibility of these co-researchers definitions of success and resilience and the factors they identify as contributing to the development of their resilience. Implications for social work practice were derived through a combined family systems/socialist feminist analysis that identified areas of family functioning and patriarchal definitions that interfered with the process of reorganization, as well as acknowledgement of the meanings created by co-researchers that contributed to the development of resilience.

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