The Healthy Child in an Unhealthy Family setting


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Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences

Document type


Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy


This phenomenological narrative research study aims to understand the pathway of the individuals who have managed to adapt successfully into adulthood in spite of their dysfunctional family setting, and understand how they became the persons they are today by shedding a light on how they have re-constructed themselves from their past experiences, present situations, and their hopes and longings for the future. A cross-sectional research design was conducted in Iceland, and the participants were found with the use of a purposive sampling method. This allowed the researcher to recruit participants whose experiences were relevant to the research aims. Furthermore, the participants were required to be 30 years of age or older as they were in better position to reflect on how their past, present and imagined futures have shaped their narrative identities. Semi-structured narrative interviews were applied so that participants would be encouraged to reflect over their life stories and pick out the important elements that contributed to their success in adulthood. Finally, narrative analysis was applied to interpret and structure their life stories into themes in conjunction with the concepts that were discovered to influence participants’ successful journeys from childhood to adulthood. My conclusion is that healthy children who are brought up in unhealthy dysfunctional family settings are able to adapt more successfully into adulthood when they have a positive social support around them as children such as the support from grandparents, friends or siblings. This support helps them create a solid foundation to build their lives on as they enter adulthood, which is consistent with previous research studies. My findings also suggest that children who are living in dysfunctional family settings are more prone to use emotion-focused coping in order to manage the traumatic situations occurring in their families due to the fact that, as children, they are powerless to change the situation happening in their homes. However, as adults they are more likely to use problem-focused coping as now they have the power to change the situation in regards to how involved they continue to be in their parents’ problems. This is especially true if their parents’ behavior is still causing them harm in adulthood.




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