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“He Is Still My Son”: Aging And Living In The Shadow Of An Abusive Adult Child With Mental Disorder

Tova Band-Winterstein, Hila Avieli, Yael Smeloy
Published 2015 · Psychology

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Abstract Purpose In face of global deinstitutionalization policy, some aging parents find themselves confronting violence and crime in the family due to abusive behavior from their adult child with mental disorder. The aim of this paper is to explore and understand the meaning given by aging parents to this deviant behavior and the different ways in which they cope with a lifetime in the shadow of violence. Design/Methodology/Approach Data collection was performed through in-depth semi-structured interviews with 16 parents, followed by content analysis. Findings Three themes that expressed the meaning attributed to life with ACMD in the shadow of violence: (1) constructing parental identity in a shared reality of violence, (2) social and family networks as a resource in coping with ACMD, and (3) keeping a daily life routine as an anchor in a vulnerable, abusive relationship Practical Implications Intervention with such families should focus on the life review process as a therapeutic tool. Interventions should also provide a “safety belt,” including health services, public social networks, and knowledge regarding their right for self-protection. Originality/Value Old age becomes an arena for redefined relationships combining increased vulnerability, needs of both sides, and its impact on the well-being of the ageing parents. This calls for better insights and deeper understanding in regard to intervention with such families.
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