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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Lived Experience of Christian Parents of Transgender Children: An Exploration of the Relationship Between Faith and Parenting Through the Framework of Family Systems Theory
by Sieverts, Jill E., Ph.D., Neumann University, 2018, 341; 13855781
Abstract (Summary)

This qualitative study employed family systems theory to explore the processes that occur in family relationships when Christian parents discover they have a transgender child. This study explored the role of faith in how parents approach the parenting challenges associated with having a transgender child, and also explored the impact that parenting such children has on a parent’s faith. In addition, this study identified words of scripture that Christian parents find helpful and unhelpful as they search for spiritual guidance on parenting. Much research has revealed the critical role parents play in the well-being of transgender persons, yet very little research has focused on how parents of faith are coping with, and responding to, the phenomenon of having a transgender child. This study addresses that gap in literature by providing insights into the lived experience of 16 Christian parents of transgender children.

Data collection was conducted in two parts. First, respondents were given a questionnaire to gather demographic and faith data. Second, all participants were interviewed individually using a semi-structured, open-ended interview process.

This research resulted in rich, thick data describing the emotional, relational, and spiritual experiences of these parents. Parents reported experiencing deep feelings of love, grief, fear, confusion, isolation, and anger. In addition, this study revealed that faith influences how Christian parents relate to their transgender children, and, that parental faith is deepened as a result of having a transgender child.

This study contributed valuable data to the existing body of knowledge for mental health professionals who work with transgender persons and their families. This study found that some Christian parents are deeply committed to loving and supporting their transgender children, and desperately desire to help their children reach a place of physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual peace. Results of this study have implications for the treatment of transgender children, teens, and young adults. Findings indicate that although Christian parents of transgender children face many unique needs and challenges, they may still be regarded as a valuable resource and support system for their transgender children.

Indexing (document details)
School: Neumann University
Department: Pastoral Counseling
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 77/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Pastoral Counseling, LGBTQ studies, Individual & family studies
Keywords: Christian parents of transgender children, Family systems theory and transgender children, How christian faith influences parents of transgender children, Parenting transgender children, Transgender children impact parents faith
Publication Number: 13855781
ISBN: 978-1-392-00388-6
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