Depressed women's emotional experiences of the mother-child relationship : perspectives from a low-income South African community

Lourens, Marleen (2014-04)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The present research study formed part of a larger longitudinal project concerned with low-income South African women’s subjective experiences of depression (Lourens & Kruger, 2013). The present study specifically focussed on how depressed women experienced their relationships with their children. The study aimed to provide a descriptive overview of how one group of depressed South African mothers experience their relationships with their children, as well as to compare the findings with existing literature. Therefore, the scope of this study does not include in-depth analyses of findings. While numerous researchers have examined and identified the important negative effects of depression in mothers on children during the past decade, a very limited number of studies have been focussed on the opposite direction of the depressed mother-child relationship. Very few studies have explored how relationships with their children may influence the development and subjective experience of depression and emotional distress in mothers, as well as, on the other hand, may protect against depression and emotional distress (Dix & Meunier, 2009; Greig & Howe, 2001; Leung & Slep, 2006; Rishel, 2012; Turney, 2012). The present study attempted to address this gap in the literature. The feminist social constructionist perspective was utilised as theoretical framework (De Vos, Strydom, Fouché, & Delport, 2011). Consistent with social constructionism, the study was conducted within the qualitative research paradigm (De Vos et al., 2011). Convenience sampling was used to recruit participants most suitable for the aims of the study (APA Dictionary of Psychology, 2007). Data were collected by means of in-depth semi-structured interviews. A semistructured interview schedule was utilised as data collection instrument. Each interview was recorded by video camera, as well as by voice recorder, in order to ensure back-up recordings. The interviews were then transcribed. Social constructionist grounded theory was used to analyse the data (Charmaz, 1995). The results indicated that the depressed women and children in this study seem to be different from the stereotype of the depressed mothers and children in the literature. Depressed mothers are typically portrayed in the literature as not able to form a close and secure bond with their children, while the children of depressed mothers are almost always portrayed in the literature as showing behavioural and emotional problems, as well as being “parentified” (Coyne & Thompson, 2011; Dix & Meunier, 2009; Turney, 2012). Although the depressed women in the present study did report child factors which contributed to their depression, they - to the contrary - also emphasised that their children are an important protective factor against their experience of depression. The participants also highlighted that they have the ability to be protective, supportive and caring towards their children, despite their depressive symptoms. The majority of depressed women also described a “very good” mother-child relationship. As such, the participants in the present study showed us a brighter picture of the depressed mother-child relationship.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsingstudie het deel gevorm van ‘n groter longitudinale projek wat op lae-inkomste Suid-Afrikaanse vroue se subjektiewe ervarings van depressie gerig was (Lourens & Kruger, 2013). Die huidige studie was spesifiek gerig op hoe depressiewe vroue hul verhoudings met hul kinders ervaar. Hierdie studie het ten doel gehad om ‘n beskrywende oorsig te voorsien van hoe een groep depressiewe Suid-Afrikaanse vroue hul verhoudings met hul kinders ervaar, asook om die bevindinge te vergelyk met bestaande literatuur. Om hierdie rede sluit die omvang van hierdie studie nie ‘n diepgaande analise van bevindinge in nie. Terwyl talle navorsers die belangrike newe-effekte van moeders se depressie in terme van hul kinders gedurende die laaste dekade ondersoek het, is ‘n baie beperkte aantal studies op die teenoorgestelde rigting van die depressiewe moeder-kind verhouding gerig. Slegs ‘n paar studies het hoe verhoudings met hul kinders die ontwikkeling en subjektiewe ervaring van depressie in moeders kan beïnvloed, ondersoek, of daarteenoor, hoe dit die moeder kan beskerm teen depressie (Dix & Meunier, 2009; Greig & Howe, 2001; Leung & Slep, 2006; Rishel, 2012; Turney, 2012). Die huidige studie het gepoog om hierdie gaping in die literatuur aan te spreek. Die sosiaal konstruksionistiese feministiese perspektief is as teoretiese raamwerk gebruik (De Vos, Strydom, Fouché, & Delport, 2011). In ooreenstemming met sosiale konstruksionisme, is hierdie studie binne die kwalitatiewe navorsingsparadigma uitgevoer (De Vos et al., 2011). Gerieflikheid steekproeftrekking is gebruik om die mees gepaste deelnemers vir die doelstellings van hierdie studie te werf (APA Dictionary of Psychology, 2007). Data is deur middel van in-diepte semi-gestruktureerde onderhoude ingesamel. ‘n Semi-gestruktureerde onderhoudskedule is as data-insamelingsinstrument gebruik. Elke onderhoud is op videokamera, sowel as op band opgeneem, ten einde meer as een opname van elke onderhoud te verseker. Die onderhoude is getranskribeer. Data-analise het plaasgevind deur van sosiale konstruksionistiese gegronde teorie gebruik te maak (Charmaz, 1995). Die resultate het aangedui dat die depressiewe vroue en hul kinders in hierdie studie verskil van die stereotipe van depressiewe moeders en hul kinders in die literatuur. Depressiewe moeders word in die literatuur tipies voorgestel asof hulle nie in staat is om ‘n naby en veilige binding met hul kinders te vorm nie, terwyl die kinders van depressiewe moeders amper altyd in literatuur met gedrags- en emosionele probleme voorgestel word (Coyne & Thompson, 2011; Dix & Meunier, 2009; Turney, 2012). In teendeel – alhoewel die depressiewe vroue in die huidige studie wel gerapporteer het dat hul kinders bydra tot hul depressie – het hulle ook klem geplaas op die feit dat hul kinders ‘n belangrike beskermende faktor is teen hul ervaring van depressie. Die depressiewe vroue het ook beklemtoon dat hulle die vermoë het om beskermend en ondersteunend teenoor hul kinders te wees, ten spyte van hul depressiewe simptome. Die meerderheid deelnemers het ook ‘n “baie goeie” verhouding met hul kinders beskryf. As sodanig, het die depressiewe vroue in die huidige studie vir ons ‘n helderder prentjie van die depressiewe moeder-kind verhouding getoon.

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