- A mother's story towards acceptance of her son's alternative lifestyle : a narrative journey from an educational psychology perspective.
- Yell, Teresa Nicola
- gays, parents of gays, coming out ( sexual orientation ), alternative lifestyles
- M.Ed., As an Educational Psychologist, one is frequently touched by people struggling to come to terms with life’s complexities, which may in some instances be termed a life in crisis. This crisis may often involve change, which may cause the person to embark on a journey of discovery where the destination may not be what he/she had planned. A mother may embark on just such a journey when she is confronted by the loss brought about by her child’s “coming out” as either gay or lesbian. A mother approached the Institute for Child and Adult Guidance in need of guidance where the acceptance of her son’s alternative lifestyle was concerned. Her story piqued my interest as I am a mother and because I have recently experienced “coming out” with many of my friends. I immediately recognized that this was a mother on the threshold of a journey of discovery that may well enable me to assist and support others in similar situations. I wondered what I, as an Educational Psychologist, might learn from a mother’s journey towards acceptance of her son’s alternative lifestyle. In addition to this question, I realized that I would need to explore her dominant discourses, which may have influenced her view of the alternative lifestyle and that I, as her therapist, would have a role to play in deconstructing them. I would also have to deconstruct the traditional power relationship that exists between a client and a therapist and in this case between a participant and a researcher. The research was conducted within a qualitative research paradigm. In order to answer the research question and to specify the aims of the research, in terms of the Narrative Therapy paradigm, a Participatory Action Research strategy was followed. This manner of conducting research aims at constructing knowledge and meaning together with the participants of the study, thus creating a collaborative process. In this study, multiple methods of data collection were employed in order to construct and co-create rich data with the participant. This data included recordings of therapeutic conversations, as well as journal texts and letters written by my client and me. The experiences of the mother were recorded by way of thick descriptions and reflections. These thick descriptions reflected her journey towards, and our understanding of, acceptance. From the results research, it became evident that acceptance is an ongoing process. It also became apparent that my client had the ability to deal with her problems and to move towards a place where acceptance appeared to be possible. The collaborative process made it possible for a mother’s voice to be heard regarding her knowledges and skills where her own journey towards acceptance was concerned. It also broadened a community of care within her family and circle of friends and even nationally, after we were interviewed by a national magazine, the purpose of which was to offer advice to other parents in a similar situation.
- Prof. J. Byrne
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