Adult children of parents with mental illness: Parenting journeys

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Journal Article
BMC Psychology, 2018, 6 (1)
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© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Individuals who have lived with childhood parental mental illness are at increased risk of developing mental health concerns. Yet there is limited knowledge about how a person's childhood experiences of parental mental illness may influence their subsequent parenting roles. Methods: This narrative study generated parenting narratives of adult children who had lived with childhood parental mental illness. Interviewees included 10 women and three men. Inductive thematic analysis was used to establish themes and sub-themes from the narratives. Results: The theme of parenting journeys with sub-themes of: 'adult children living with parenting worries' and 'adult children seeking emotional connectivity with their children and others' are presented. Conclusions: Parenting anxiety may be a common experience shared by all parents. However, adult children's worries in relation to their child/ren developing mental illness may be associated with their own experiences of childhood parental mental illness. All health professionals have a pinnacle role in supporting families to build resilience and harness positive experiences within familial relationships to recognise and mitigate parenting anxiety.
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