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“I’m finally allowed to be me”: parent-child estrangement and psychological wellbeing

Audrey, HL; Elizabeth, S; (2019) “I’m finally allowed to be me”: parent-child estrangement and psychological wellbeing. Families, Relationships and Societies 10.1332/204674319x15647593365505. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Estrangement from a family member is characterised by lack of trust and emotional intimacy, and often includes ceased communication and contact. Existing estrangement research suggests adult children report three main reasons for estrangement from a parent: abuse, poor parenting and betrayal. However, research into estrangement and experiences of psychological wellbeing is sparse. This study used semi-structured interviews to explore this with 7 female participants with experiences of parental maltreatment, aged 24–37. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis resulted in 4 main themes: experiences of contact; gaining agency; navigating relationships; and navigating estrangement. Results suggest estrangement can be experienced both positively and negatively in terms of psychological wellbeing. Positive experiences provide insight into maintenance of estrangement, and suggest processes of benefit-finding following stressful life events can be applicable to estrangement. Practice implications for those working with adult children include considering reasons for estrangement, and facilitating sense-making to assist with coming to terms with estrangement.

Type: Article
Title: “I’m finally allowed to be me”: parent-child estrangement and psychological wellbeing
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1332/204674319x15647593365505
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1332/204674319x15647593365505
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Estrangement; interpretative phenomenological analysis; interviews; well-being
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10087439
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