At Home and Elsewhere: How to Handle Daily Life Growing up with a “Mad Mother” or “Drunk Father”?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 10:30 AM
Room: 422
Oral Presentation
Astrid HALSA , Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway
At home and elsewhere: How to handle daily life growing up with a “mad mother” or “drunk father”?

There is a large body of research on children living in families with parental mental illness/substance abuse focusing on parental failure, adverse outcomes and risks imposed on the child. The risk and harm perspective is however less suitable to study children as participating agents. There is a gap of knowledge about how these children deal with the different realities of home and away, and at what costs and benefits they adapt to these different contexts. They often have to negotiate between the often secret and shame-laden family context and arenas and situations outside the family. This paper foucs on children and young people’s first persons accounts on growing up with parental mental illness or substance abuse by analysing children’s own experience. The paper concludes with the suggestion that to grasp these children and young peoples lived- experiences the research has to look outside the families front door and include children’s activities in school, leisure and community, and focus on the active and challenging identity work these young people go through in trying to keep their homes together while developing a sense of selves.