Experiences of Grandmothers Raising Their Orphaned Adolescent Grandsons

Worldwide, grandparent-headed households have emerged as one of the fastest-growing family constellations responsible for caring for grandchildren as a result of various crises, including increased death of middle-aged people. Little is known about mental health factors influencing grandmothers’ daily well-being when raising orphaned adolescent grandsons (OAGs). The main objective of this study was to explore and describe the lived experiences of grandmothers raising their OAGs in uMkhanyakude District, KwaZulu-Natal. In this study, a qualitative research design, which is exploratory, descriptive and contextual in nature, was used. The study was based on the application of a philosophy of constructivism by conducting individual in-depth phenomenological interviews to understand the experience of grandmothers as they narrate it and the meaning they attach to raising their OAGs. Purposive sampling was used in the selection of grandmothers raising OAGs. Data saturation was reached after 10 interviews, and was supplemented by documented observations and field notes. The data was analysed using Tesch’s method of open coding. The themes that emerged were the following: the burden of meeting the basic needs of their OAGs, concern about the future and their health as well as their grandsons’ health, and living everything in God. The results are discussed in the context of existing literature. Many mental health conditions are undiagnosed; the study highlights the need to promote mental health strategies that will be sensitive to the challenges experienced by grandmothers raising OAGs and empower them with skills and the mobilisation of resources.

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