The effects of parental separation and divorce on the psychological well-being of secondary school learners in a school in the Durban South region.
FOR MY MOTHER I love you I hate you I abuse And appreciate you You feed my guilty conscious I fuel your shattered soul Your misguided love and affection Have turned my heart into stone You are nothing You are everything You stole my voice You made me sing In this separation we create We grow together In love And in hate ……..Saron. The above poem is written by a learner who comes from a broken home. There are many children like Saron in our classrooms who have suffered consequences of parental separation and divorce. This study investigates the experiences of children from a secondary school in the Durban South Region. Their parents are either separated or divorced. The study was undertaken to ascertain how these learners are psychologically affected by their family situations. The rationale for the research study is grounded by statistics and a wide variety of literature that indicates that children from separated and divorced families experience multiple problems, develop abnormal behavioural patterns and seek attention and release from alternate sources. The research study is framed within the social constructivist paradigm to indicate how social phenomena develop in particular social contexts. In order to answer the research questions and gain clarity on the topic, data was gathered using narrative stories, personal narrative diary entries, time line representations and interviews. The narrative diary entries and time line representations were used as prompts for the interviews, whereby the researcher not only allowed the participants to discuss their experiences but also spent a prolonged period of time with them. The research study was qualitative in nature and aimed to achieve a greater level of depth by studying four participants. This was accomplished using the method of purposive sampling. The data obtained from the participants was transcribed and analysed using the open-coding technique and thematic analysis. The results revealed that even though the effects of the divorce and separation varied, the participants shared similarities with regard to their emotional state. They all experienced feelings of sadness, distress, abandonment, anger, helplessness, and stress. The results also indicated that the effects of divorce were on the participant’s behaviour, their families’ financial and economic situation, their academic school lives and integration at school. The participants reported both positive and negative effects of their parents’ separation and divorce. Taking all the data collected into consideration, the researcher was then able to make recommendations which would prove beneficial to all stakeholders.
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