University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

‘She’s More Than a Mother - She Takes Care of Me’: Exploring the Meaning of Family for Young People Growing up in Institutional Care

Misca, Gabriela ORCID: (2014) ‘She’s More Than a Mother - She Takes Care of Me’: Exploring the Meaning of Family for Young People Growing up in Institutional Care. In: British Psyhcological Society Annual Conference, 7-9 May 2014, Birmingham. (Unpublished)

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Objective: To explore the meaning of family and family connectedness in teenagers growing up in institutional care.
Method: Semi-structured interviews with 40 young people aged 12 to 16 living in institutional care in Romania were conducting using the Family Chessboard Technique. This is a figure placement technique - adapted from the Family System Test - designed to represent family relationships spatially, capture structural patterns of family cohesion and introduce the ‘family’ topic to young people.
Results: Teenagers’ representations of their families suggest that care provided on a consistent basis is the most important and they felt strongly about the lack of interest shown by some parents, who ceased to maintain even minimal contact with them, and in turn, they had ‘rejected’ or ‘replaced’ these parents. Teenagers included a number of their institutional caregivers as family members and also ‘nice people who behave like family’ or grandparents and other relatives who performed caring roles in their lives. Most young people had inclusive notions of family based on an assumption about how parents ‘ought to behave’ towards their children, and their expectations of parents were high: they tended to distance themselves from ‘parents who behave badly’ and consequently did not feel connected to them.
Conclusions: The importance attached to families by teenagers living in institutional care indicates that greater involvement by parents should be strongly encouraged in safe situations, and that teenagers do accept parent-substitute figures when birth parents fail to maintain contact and provide care.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:

Paper part of the symposium: Counter-Hegemonic Caring: Placing marginalized familial experiences at the centre.
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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: young people, teenagers, institutional care, family connectedness
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
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Depositing User: Gabriela Misca
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2014 12:19
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 17:02

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