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Title: Only child's lived experiences of taking care of ageing parents in mainland China
Authors: Zhang, Yu
Degree: M.Phil.
Issue Date: 2019
Abstract: Background: The one-child policy was a family planning policy implemented in China in the period 1979 to 2015. It forced every married couple to have no more than one child. Today, the first Only Child generation has reached an age when their parents are transitioning from young parents to older parenthood. How the Only Child understands parental caregiving in the complicated social and familial context has now become a major concern for Chinese society. However, studies about how an Only Child actually justifies the meanings and values of parental caregiving, especially facing the competing demands of parental caregiving and personal life, have remained limited. Therefore, a nuanced understanding of the adult Only Child's parental caregiving experiences in China has become important. Purpose: The aim of this study is to explore Chinese Only Child's lived experience of taking care of their ageing parents. Methods: Giorgi's (2009) descriptive phenomenology approach was used. Participants living in Guangzhou, China, were recruited using purposive sampling. Data collected through unstructured interviews were analysed using the following Giorgi and Giorgi's (2003) four phases: 1) reading the interview transcripts to make sense of the whole picture, 2) determining the meaning units, 3) transforming the units of meaning into phenomenological sensitive descriptions, and 4) theorising to determine the structure. Bracketing was in place throughout the research process. The trustworthiness of the study was ensured by using strategies satisfying general, systematic, critical, and methodical criteria.
Findings: Fifteen individuals (six women and nine men) aged between 24 and 35 years participated in the study. The care receiving parents of these individuals were aged around 60 years. For an adult child, parental caregiving was characterised as "safeguarding self and parents from the challenging future perceived by parents' ageing", along three sub-themes: 1) moral awareness of parental caregiving as a way of being, 2) perceived gap between a satisfying life and the reality of life, and 3) knowledge of how to live a satisfying life as an Only Child. These sub-themes capture the essential structure of the concept of safeguarding from the Only Child's perspective. Discussion: The essence of parental caregiving shows that the Only Child makes sense of what is the right thing to do from considerations on the family level, in terms of what is the best arrangement for the whole family. Furthermore, being an Only Child plays an important role in the Only Child's knowledge of parental caregiving. This facilitates the awareness of the Only Child of his or her obligations and the need to take good care of one's parents. Implications: The findings provide an empathetic understanding of the Only Child's experience of parental care giving. The implications for social services and polices include the need to coordinate formal and informal care in taking care of older people in one-child families and the use of Watson's caring theory to develop strategies to enhance holistic care for Only Child as well as for his or her parents. The implications for research include a call for longitudinal follow-up studies to further explore the changes in the Only Child's perceptions as their parents become ever more dependent. Conclusion: This study provides insights into the essence of parental caregiving from the Only Child's perspective. It offers a more in-depth understanding of the phenomenon of parental caregiving and helps to narrow gaps in knowledge related to the phenomenon of parental caregiving in one-child families.
Subjects: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Adult children of aging parents -- China
Only child
Older people -- Care -- China
Aging parents -- Care -- China
Pages: xvi, 197 pages : color illustrations
Appears in Collections:Thesis

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