Psychological well-being, religiousness, and spirituality in the lives of adolescents from intact and divorced families

Victor, Karin (2013-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2013.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Adolescence is a difficult life stage to navigate, and having to face a significant life crisis, such as the divorce of one’s parents, intensifies the already heavy burden of adolescence. Divorce, moreover, may have lasting detrimental ramifications for the individual. As a result, the individual seeks mechanisms and ways of coping with life’s stressors. Adaptive coping mechanisms, such as religiousness and spirituality, have positive effects on the individual, especially with regard to his/her psychological well-being (Wills, Yaeger, & Sandy, 2003). Against this background, the present study investigated the psychological well-being, religiousness and spirituality of adolescents from intact families and adolescents from divorced families. The aim was to determine whether there were differences in psychological well-being, religiousness and spirituality between these two groups of adolescents, and also to explore qualitatively how adolescents from divorced families utilise their religiousness and spirituality to cope with the divorce of their parents. The life span theory (Newman & Newman, 2009), pillars of psychological well-being (Ryff, 1989), faith development theory (Fowler, 1981) and Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological theory (1979) all contributed to the theoretical framework for this study. A mixed-methods research design was employed. The Ryff Psychological Well-Being scale (Ryff, 1989) was used to measure psychological well-being, and the Assessment of Spiritual and Religious Sentiments scale (Piedmont, 2005) was used to measure religiousness and spirituality. An open-ended question was utilised to explore significant life crises that the participants had faced, whether the participants believed that their religiousness and/or spirituality aided them during the crisis, and how they employed their religiousness and/or spirituality to cope with the significant life crisis. A total of ninety adolescents aged between 15 and 18 years from three schools in the Helderberg basin in the Western Cape participated in this study. The results show that there were some significant differences between genders with regard to specific dimensions of psychological well-being, religiousness and spirituality. These dimensions were personal growth, religiosity, prayer fulfilment and universality, and females tended to score higher on all of these dimensions. There were no significant differences with regard to type of household (intact or divorced) on psychological well-being, religiousness or spirituality. The qualitative results show that religiousness is a definite coping mechanism that participants use to navigate the crisis of divorce. This thesis contributes to research on adolescents, religiousness and spirituality, and the effects of divorce. Recommendations are made for future research into religiousness and spirituality.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Adolessensie is ‘n moeilike lewensfase om te navigeer, en om ‘n groot lewenskrisis, soos die egskeiding van jou ouers, die hoof te bied, vergroot die reeds swaar las van adolessensie. Egskeiding kan ook blywende en nadelige gevolge vir die individu inhou. Gevolglik poog die individu om meganismes en maniere te soek om die bykomende lewenstressors te hanteer. Gesonde hanteringsmeganismes, soos godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit, het ‘n positiewe uitwerking op die individu, veral met betrekking tot sy/haar sielkundige welstand (Wills, Yaeger, & Sandy, 2003). Na aanleiding hiervan is hierdie tesis gerig op die ondersoek van verskille in sielkundige welstand, godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit in adolessente uit getroude gesinne en adolessente uit geskeide gesinne. Hierdie tesis is daarop gemik om te bepaal of daar verskille in sielkundige welstand, godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit is tussen hierdie twee groepe adolessente, en ook om kwalitatief te bepaal presies hoe adolessente uit geskeide gesinne hulle godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit gebruik om die egskeiding van hulle ouers te hanteer. Die lewenspanteorie (Newman & Newman, 2009), pilare van sielkundige welstand (Ryff, 1989), faith development theory (Fowler, 1981) en Bronfenbrenner se bio-ekologiese teorie (1979) is as teoretiese raamwerke vir hierdie navorsing gebruik. ‘n Gemengde metode navorsingsontwerp is gebruik. Sielkundige welstand is met die Ryff Psychological Well-Being skaal (Ryff, 1989) gemeet, terwyl godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit met die Assessment of Spiritual and Religious Sentiments (Piedmont, 2005) skaal gemeet is. 'n Oopeinde-vraag is ontwerp om die groot lewenskrisisse te verken wat die deelnemers ervaar het, om uit te vind of die deelnemers glo dat hulle godsdienstigheid en/of spiritualiteit hulle tydens die krisis gehelp het, en hoe hulle hul godsdienstigheid en/of spiritualiteit tydens die verwerking van die groot lewenskrisis gebruik het. ‘n Totaal van negentig adolessente tussen die ouderdomme van 15 en 18 jaar van drie skole in die Helderbergkom in die Wes-Kaap het aan hierdie navorsing deelgeneem. Die resultate het getoon dat daar 'n paar beduidende verskille tussen geslagte is met betrekking tot die spesifieke dimensies van sielkundige welstand, godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit. Hierdie dimensies was persoonlike groei, religiositeit gebedsvervulling en universaliteit. Vroulike deelnemers was geneig om hoër tellings te behaal vir al vier hierdie dimensies. Daar was geen beduidende verskille met betrekking tot die tipe huishouding (getroud of geskei) op sielkundige welstand, godsdienstigheid of spiritualiteit nie. Die kwalitatiewe resultate het getoon dat godsdienstigheid 'n definitiewe behartigingsmeganisme is wat deelnemers gebruik om die krisis van hulle ouers se egskeiding te hanteer. Hierdie tesis dra by tot navorsing oor adolessente, godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit, en die gevolge van egskeiding. Aanbevelings word gemaak vir toekomstige navorsing oor godsdienstigheid en spiritualiteit.

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