Separating My Own Identity from My Father: Adaptation Process in Adult Children of Alcoholic Fathers in South Korea
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Alcoholism is considered as family disease since it influences not only the patient him/herself but also his/her whole family. In particular, children of alcoholics are easily exposed to abusive and violent situations as well as inconsistent parenting and social stigma. In the case of South Korea, about 18~36% of adults are considered children of alcoholic parents. Despite this high percentage, limited research has been done in South Korea, and consequently there is a lack of existing intervention programs for this population. This study, thus, explores their development trajectory, especially focusing on the process to show their adaptation on their lives. Grounded Theory methodology is used for this study. Therefore, a theory is generated based on qualitative data describing the process of adapting. The theory is developed to delineate a structural psychosocial process of adaptation and critical influences on the process in Korean adult children of alcoholics from their own perspectives. The data were collected from July 24 to October 12, 2014. Face-to-face and telephone interviews were used for data collection. A total of 20 volunteer participants were recruited, and each participant was interviewed twice. The interview data was analyzed following the methods described by Strauss & Corbin (1994) and extended by Lewis & Deal (1995). As a result, `separating my own identity from my father' appeared as the core category in adaptation process of Korean children of alcoholic fathers (KCOAs). In order to separate themselves from their fathers, they passed through six stages: being trapped, awakening, struggling, blocking, understanding, and separating. Continuous suffering emerged as the phenomenon of KCOAs' lives. The phenomenon existed at all stages of adaptation, and it was ongoing throughout their lives. The suffering derived from having an unstable family life, feeling shame, getting stressed because of the alcoholic father, realizing the alcoholic father's negative influence, being tied up with the alcoholic father, and being tied up with the family. In addition, five contextual conditions were inferred as the factors influencing the adaptation processes in KCOAs. These five factors were experiencing family violence, having strength, having a good maternal relationship, feeling hopeful about the trajectory of the father's alcohol use, and using a sense of spirituality related to Confucianism to make sense of the situation. In conclusion, the study findings show the urgent need for developing interventions and programs for children of alcoholics in South Korea; culturally specific interventions to provide information about alcoholism and to prevent future alcoholism as well as regular counseling programs for children of alcoholics to relieve their psychological distress are needed.
- Nursing - Seattle