Parenting in the time of AIDS.
This thesis reports on a formative evaluation study conducted, firstly, to inform an adaptation of the Collaborative HIV Prevention and Adolescent Mental Health Program (CHAMP) so as to strengthen the adult protective shield in order to prevent high risk behaviour and HIV among children in the targeted community in Embo, Kwadedangendlale, KwaZulu-Natal (Study 1); and secondly, after a pilot intervention, to evaluate the adapted programme in order to understand the processes involved in strengthening the adult protective shield (Study 2). The research design for both Study 1 and Study 2 was qualitative in nature. More specifically, the two studies used a focused ethnographic case study approach. Thematic content analysis was used to analyse the data from both studies and three theoretical approaches facilitated the understanding of the data: Joffe’s psychoanalytic extension of social representation theory, Carpiano’s integrative theory of social capital, and Campbell and Murray’s critical approach to community health psychology. The participants in the first study were a volunteer convenience sample of parents of children aged 9-12 years from a school in the targeted community. Focus groups and in depth follow up interviews were conducted with the parents. Interviews were also conducted with key members of the community. At the community level, lack of containment emerged as an overarching theme, with splitting and lack of trust as subthemes interpreted as emerging to deal with anxiety. Anxiety was also linked to stigmatization of people suspected of being HIV positive or having AIDS. Coping mechanisms used to deal with stigmatization were silence and denial. Linked to the issue of stigmatization was that of death and bereavement. At the family level, disempowerment of caregivers emerged as an overarching theme creating anxiety for parents, one of the sources of which was the generational knowledge gap, with parents being generally less educated than their children. This was linked to two issues: that of children’s rights; and parents’ attempts to resort to severe forms of authoritarian parenting. In the second study, in-depth semi-structured interviews, based on the themes that had emerged from the pre-intervention focused ethnographic study, were conducted with a volunteer convenience sample of nine mothers who had been part of the CHAMPSA intervention. Two broad themes emerged: Individual empowerment, including the subthemes parental empowerment, women empowerment, and social support and social leverage; and collective empowerment, including the subthemes informal social control and community organisation, and HIV/AIDS stigma. The findings of the second study contributed to the development of a model showing how improved parent child communication and parental HIV knowledge at the individual level as well as renegotiated, empowered parental identities facilitated through the group process restored parental authority at the individual level as well as collectively, strengthening social capital and restoring the adult and community protective shields.