Lived Experiences of Emerging Adults from Single-Parent Families: Exploring Responses to Perceived Maternal Depression

Molly Brawer, Fordham University

Abstract

Families headed by single mothers are increasingly prevalent in the United States. These mothers face unique challenges that can increase their risk of depression. Many studies exploring maternal depression are quantitative, thus failing to give voice to the experiences of growing up with a depressed mother. Further, the experiences of emerging adult offspring have not been examined. This phenomenological, constructivist study explored the lived experience of emerging adults from single-parent families who perceive their mothers as depressed. Fifteen women between the ages of 18 and 25 who grew up with a single mother as the primary parental figure were interviewed using a semi-structured interview. Interviews were transcribed and data were analyzed using Moustakas’ (1994) phenomenological approach. Eleven major themes emerged from the data. These themes include (a) Mothers’ Lack of Engagement/Participation in Caregiving, (b) Feeling Responsible for/Protective of Mother, (c) Difficulty Living with/Unable to Live with Mother, (d) Emotion Focused Coping in Childhood and Adolescence, (e) Current Coping Mechanisms in Emerging Adulthood, (f) Social Support, (g) Forced Self-Reliance, (h) Negative Affect as Response to Maternal Depression (i) Negative Impact on Interpersonal Relationships (j) Negative Impact on Emerging Adults’ Own Mental Health, and (k) Interview as a Self-Reflective Process. Clinical implications, limitations and areas for future research are also explored including ways to improve and target treatment with the emerging adult population.^

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Brawer, Molly, "Lived Experiences of Emerging Adults from Single-Parent Families: Exploring Responses to Perceived Maternal Depression" (2018). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10748552.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI10748552

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