Fathers’ experiences of caring for an adult child with psychosis: A qualitative study
Previous research exploring parental experiences of caring has highlighted both the rewarding nature and associated difficulties with this role. Within these studies the majority of parents have been mothers, resulting in minimal understanding about fathers’ experiences. The aim of the current study was to explore how fathers described and made sense of their caring experiences. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with seven participants, including six biological fathers and one step-father. Interviews were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Five themes emerged: ‘Father versus carer’; ‘Change in quality of the relationship with child’; ‘To share or not to share; ‘Acceptance is a struggle’; and ‘Mental health services: inconsistency vs. luck’. Previous research has indicated a minimal role of fathers, in contrast the current study found fathers were deeply committed to their caring role viewing this as central to being a parent, caring unconditionally for their adult child with additional needs. Fathers can play a crucial and unconditional role in the care of their adult children. With long-term complex conditions, such as psychoses, it is important for services to recognise the contribution of fathers, to enable greater involvement whilst also offering support for them to help sustain their important caring role.