Children of mothers with physical disabilities : perceptions of parenting, the mother-adolescent relationship and the adolescent's engagement in risky behaviour : five case studies

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This qualitative study investigated the effect of a mother's physical disability on the mother-adolescent relationship, parenting and the adolescent's engagement in risky behaviour. Interviews were conducted with five mothers with visible physical disabilities and with their adolescent children. The adolescents comprised two boys and three girls between the ages of 12 and 15 years. All five mother-adolescent dyads were black, with low maternal educational levels, from low socio-economic backgrounds, and lived in neighbourhoods characterised by unemployment, gangsterism, substance abuse, violence and crime. The multiple case study design was used to compare and contrast evidence from the individual cases. Two separate semistructured interviews, covering the same topics, were conducted with both the mother and the adolescent in order to triangulate the data. The interviews focused on perceptions of (a) the impact of the mother's disability for mother-adolescent relations; (b) disability-related stigma and the adolescent's awareness of the mother's difference on the mother-adolescent relationship; (c) the ways in which the mother's disability and other contextual factors affect parenting and the adolescent's engagement in risky behaviour. The results illuminated a range of barriers andfacilitators to parenting with a physical disability but the variability notwithstanding, the majority of the families reported positive relationships and experiences given the cumulative stressors that they face.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves [122]-132).