Looking at your new and helpless infant it is impossible to believe that in twelve years’ time you, as a parent, could possibly be afraid of them. However, we know that violence perpetrated by adolescents is increasingly common both at home and school and studies have demonstrated that all types of violence can have long and short term negative developmental and educational outcomes both inside and outside the home.
Exploring Parents Experience
Turkish researchers, Kiliçarslan, and Günaydin conducted a descriptive study using a phenomenological design which explores how people perceive, describe, and understand their experience, by collecting data through in-depth interviews. The authors were interested in adults’ experience of their children’s violence as this related to the use of Haim Omer’s Non-Violent Resistance Approach. They were particularly interested in understanding the cultural implications of both the meaning of violence and the applicability of the NVR approach in Turkey. At the conclusion of the study a programme based on NVR was developed for and offered to these parents.
What Did They Find?
The data was collected into main and sub-themes including, parental responses to violence, parental presence, social support, couple adjustment and marital conflicts. Parents in the study admitted to the use of violence, giving up/surrender, warning or threat, punishment and reconciliation and expressed difficulty dealing with their young person’s violence.
Some parents did attempt gestures of reconciliation to express their love for the child and to help preserve the relationship, a feature of NVR that is not inconsistent with Turkish culture. Many parents in the study believed their children did experience their parental presence so the use of NVR builds upon existing practices and beliefs.
Previous studies had suggested that Turkish families preferred to obtain support from family, friends and lastly a professional counsellor for fear of stigmatization if it were known that they were seeking help. Development of a support network to encourage healthy problem-solving skills and prevent violence is another key feature of NVR which is also acceptable in this culture.
Couples Adjustment and Marital Conflict
These parents were generally in agreement over most matters with occasional conflict over values, rules, communication, social activities, material issues, housework, cleaning, and smoking. Resolution of couple conflict is central to managing children’s difficult behaviour and a coherent approach like NVR may be useful in achieving greater harmony at the couple and parental level.
This study is of interest, not simply because of its insights into the application of an approach that has been widely and successfully applied in Britain and Europe but more generally in its attention to culture in clinical practice. It is too easy to be blinded by our own context and to assume that an approach that has been successful in one location will automatically be acceptable in another. In Australia this is important both to immigrant and Aboriginal populations. Respect for difference should guide practice.
Kiliçarslan, S. & Deniz Günaydin, H. (2023) Parental views regarding violence in adolescence. Journal of Family Therapy, 45, 291–310. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12427