FACTORS INFLUENCING RESILIENCE IN GLPFS

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW: RESILIENCE

This chapter discusses the concept of resilience and, thus, it explores the definition of resilience. It also explores the many factors that may influence individual resilience, family resilience and, especially, resilience with regard to gay and lesbian parent families.

DEFINING RESILIENCE

Resilience is a complex and dynamic construct. Resilience is not only influenced by biology (i.e. genes) or intra personal factors (i.e. optimism, emotional intelligence, faith) but it is also affected by social-contextual/environmental factors such as available resources (i.e. money, friends, institutions). It is, thus, possible to say that resilience reflects the dynamic convergence of factors which promote adaptation to life after adverse life experiences (Truffino, 2010). Individuals with effective support systems such as friends and family members may find it easier to cope in difficult times than individuals who may be isolated and who feel completely alone. In the same sense, a person may have numerous friends who serve as a support system but who foster a cynical outlook on life and, thus, such an individual may still find it difficult to cope in adverse circumstances, despite the presence of a support system. Resilience may, thus, be regarded as an important component of psychosocial adjustment and positive mental health (Truffino, 2010). One must, however, acknowledge that building resilience may be either more difficult or easier for some as a result of a variety of these factors. Many researchers (i.e. Keyes & Lopez, 2002; Masten, 2001; Ryff & Singer, 2003a, 2003b, Seligman, 2002, 2011; Southwick & Charney, 2012) have indicated that a combination of personality and contextual/environmental factors may influence resiliency in individuals. Numerous individuals possess untapped resilience and they may only become aware of how resilient they are when they are faced with adversity. Resilience appears to be an ordinary capacity and, thus, it is a characteristic or ability which is often found in individuals from all spheres of live and it is not limited to a gifted few (Grotberg, 1999; Masten, 2001; Neenan, 2009).
Neenan (2009) contends that there is no definite definition of resilience and that it is an elusive concept. He highlights the fact that, despite numerous research efforts, the factors associated with resilience and the reasons why people are affected by adversity in such diverse ways remain a puzzle. To date, there is much discrepancy in the literature as regards defining resilience. Early literature tended to portray resilience as being facilitated by exceptional personal qualities while more recent literature suggests that resilience is both a dynamic and ongoing process and is a result of various interlinked factors, both personal and contextual (Griffiths & Pooley, 2011; Masten, 2001; Christiansen, Christiansen & Howard, 1997; Walsh, 2003). Ebersohn et al. (2012) state that an increasing number of research studies support an emic perspective when exploring resilience, thus emphasising the importance of taking into account the cultural frame from where the concept becomes apparent. According to Chen and Reuben (2011), cultural homogeneity and heterogeneity refer to the culturally determined manner in which individuals navigate and negotiate resources. Culturally, aspects of resilience differ to the degree in which cultures collide and celebrate either hemogeniety or heterogniety. However, there is also a need for an understanding and appreciation of the culturally diverse ways in which groups express themselves. Minority groups may find themselves under scrutiny because it is the power groups that define socially acceptable behaviour (Ungar et al., 2013).
Many writers define resilience by including various domains and areas of expression. In the social sphere, resilience refers to both the profile of those affected by adversity and to the socio-political strategies aimed at enhancing resilience. It also refers to the degree of resilience in the community and is linked to the community’s protective or risk execratory nature (Truffino, 2010). Masten (2001) defines resilience as “a class of phenomenon characterized by good outcomes in spite of serious threats to adaption or development” (p. 228). Crawford, Wright, and Masten (2005) define the study of resilience as “a search for knowledge about the processes that could account for positive adaption and development in the context of adversity and disadvantage” (p. 355). Nevertheless, however it manifests it would appear that resilience is an ‘ordinary magic’ (Masten, 2001) that is common throughout the lifespan of individuals and that it has roots in both psychological and social resources.
The early studies of resilience focused on child development in the face of adversity and later led to resilience studies in general (Masten & Powell, 2003; Shaikh & Kauppi, 2010). It must be noted that the study of resilience does not ignore the presence of risk as being resilient does not mean that one is immune to the effect of adversity. Instead, resilience studies focus on the opportunities and resources required to overcome adversity and live optimally (Garmezy, 1996; Luthar & Zelazo, 2003). Positive adaption is, thus, a key concept in understanding resilience (Theron, 2012; Tummala-Narra, 2007). The criteria for positive adaption differ from writer to writer. Definitions of positive adaption have included the absence of pathology, the absence of physical disorders, high social competence and affect regulation. However, it is essential not to negate the cultural context, individual characteristics and time of event when considering positive adaption and resilience (Herrman, Stewart, Diaz-Granados, Berger, Jackson, & Yuen, 2011; Theron, 2012). Thus, resilience is clearly a multi-layered concept that focuses the attention on the strengths of individuals and the strength of communities while highlighting that social justice is implicit in successful development and adaption (Ungar, 2008). According to Masten (2001), resilience is the expression of basic human adaptive and protective systems. Based on their studies with children, Masten and Reed (2002) identified protective factors within the individual, within the family and within the community and that contribute in facilitating resilience. According to Masten and Reed (2002), resilience is linked to the health of these protective systems rather than to the type of adversity encountered.
Various explanations have been offered for growth after adversity while the meaning making process after adversity has been described as a process of reappraisal or revision of how a challenge may be interpreted or what the challenge may mean. Nolen-Hoeksema and Davis (2002) suggest two forms of meaning making. They refer to the first process as sense-making and in terms of which the event is interpreted as comprehensible in line with the beliefs about the way in which the world functions. This process may be highly individualised as the life circumstances of people so diverse. The sense that a person will attach to an event is significantly influenced by the individual’s life story. For example, the death of a loved one may be interpreted as ‘God calling the loved one home’ and this may even give comfort to those left behind while others may view the loss of a loved one purely as part of the life cycle and with no message attached. The second process is concerned with benefit-finding and involves finding benefits or positive outcomes in the trauma. Benefit-finding typically falls into one of three categories, namely, perceptions of the self as stronger, closer relationships or greater clarity regarding what is truly important in life. In addition, researchers have found that an optimistic attitude is positively correlated with finding benefits in adversity and loss while it would appear that spiritual orientation and religion greatly influence meaning making (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2014).
Nevertheless, however resilience is defined, it is clear that the concept of resilience does not refer purely to the ability to resist adversity but rather to adjusting, growing and developing under difficult circumstances. Resilience covers all areas of personal competence and, therefore, it affects the emotional, cognitive and social domains (Truffino, 2010).

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FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE RESILIENCE

There is considerable literature on resilience with the majority of such literature highlighting the factors that influence the building of resilience. Positive psychology points out that both happy and unhappy events form a tapestry against which the quality of life may be displayed (Carr, 2011; Seligman, 2002; 2011). In view of the fact that it is not possible either to understand or define resilience without taking into account challenging life events, this principle of positive psychology resonates well with the aim of this study and I assume that factors relating to the resilience of gay/lesbian parent families will emerge throughout this study during the exploration of both the risk and protective factors that GLPFs negotiate in their daily lives.
For the purposes of the study, the factors (individual factors and family factors) described in the following sections have been selected as playing a major role in contributing to the building of resilience. It must be noted that working with families is often challenging as it involves working with individual entities who form an integrated whole. As with any other system in society, we must not deny the fact that families comprise the total sum of different parts and, thus, that families are made up by individuals who each have their own personalities, ideas or perceptions. Although these personalities, ideas and perceptions are often influenced and shared by family identity to an extent, the individual family members are still unique. This uniqueness may, in various ways, influence the effect of factors on family resilience. However, we cannot, in a study on family resilience, negate the relational context of the individual traits and characteristics in the family system as a whole and, therefore, all of the following concepts I deem to be equally influential and important. In view of the fact that the pivotal concept of the study is the protective factors that facilitate family resilience, the literature review will, in addition to focusing on other factors, also focus in depth on exploring the factors which are regarded as beneficial to this reciprocal relationship (i.e. sense of belonging or social connectedness).
Numerous studies (see e.g. Burns, Anstey, & Windsor, 2010; Cohn, Brown, Mikels, Fredrickson, & Conway, 2009; Jowkar, 2007; Souri & Hasanirad, 2011; Wang & Kong, 2013) have indicated the positive relationship between resilience and high subjective well-being. Accordingly, some of the following factors have been specifically selected as factors that I assume would improve resilience through their direct and/or indirect effect on subjective well-being.

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INDIVIDUAL RESILIENCE

Self-regulation, cognitive reappraisal and positive emotion

Self-regulation, cognitive reappraisal and positive emotion are some of the very personal factors that contribute to resilience and which are usually intertwined. When challenging circumstances arise, mobilising positive emotions may foster the determination to overcome these challenges. Seligman (2011) categorises three types of positive emotions. The first type of positive emotion includes those emotions which are associated with the future i.e. optimism, hope, faith, confidence and trust. The second type of positive emotions includes those emotions that are associated with the past and would typically be satisfaction, contentment, fulfilment, pride and serenity. Thirdly, momentary pleasures and other enduring gratifications (such as bodily pleasures and higher pleasures) are positive emotions associated with the present. Negative emotions that arise from misfortune may easily be counteracted by inducing positive emotion as positive emotion buffers challenges and encourages resilience (Seligman, 2002; Southwick & Charney, 2012; Troy & Mauss, 2011).
One of the prominent theorists of positive emotions, Barbara Fredrickson (2001), has described extensively how positive emotions contribute to building social, psychological and physical resources. In her Broaden-and-Build theory she describes the various ways in which positive emotions may broaden one’s thought-action repertoires and build resources in order to increase well-being. In view of the fact that an increase in well-being may heighten the experience of positive emotions, an upward spiral of health and happiness may be expected (Frederickson, 2001). She goes on to emphasise that positive emotions undo negative emotions in that it is almost impossible to experience both positive and negative emotions simultaneously. Positive emotions furthermore builds resilience by offsetting the effects of negative emotions and, therefore, continues to build an upward spiral of enduring resources and continuous well-being (Baumgardner & Crothers, 2014; Frederickson, 2001). Positive emotion has been well documented in relation to coping with stress. A combination of emotional, behavioural and intellectual efforts may be employed to reduce the effect of challenging experiences and to increase coping behaviour.

CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO AND OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY
1.1 PERSONAL PRELUDE AND RATIONALE
1.2 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY, PROBLEM STATEMENT AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE STUDY
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.4 META-THEORETICAL PARADIGM
1.5 THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
1.6 CLARIFICATION OF CENTRAL CONCEPTS
CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW: RESILIENCE
2.1 DEFINING RESILIENCE
2.2 FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE RESILIENCE
2.3 CRITIQUE ABOUT RESILIENCE
CHAPTER 3 GAY AND LESBIAN PARENT FAMILIES
3.1 HISTORICAL REACTIONS TO SAME-SEX ORIENTATION AND GAY/LESBIAN PARENTING
3.4 THE EXPERIENCES OF CHILDREN AND OTHER ISSUES  PERTAINING TO GAY/LESBIAN PARENTING
3.5 RESILIENCE IN GAY AND LESBIAN PARENT FAMILIES
CHAPTER 4 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
4.1 METHODOLOGICAL PARADIGM: QUALITATIVE RESEARCH
4.2 CASE STUDY DESIGN
4.3 RESEARCH PARTICIPANTS AND OTHER INFORMATION SOURCES
4.4 DATA COLLECTION AND DOCUMENTATION
4.5 DATA ANALYSIS, DATA INTERPRETATION AND PRESENTATION  OF RESEARCH RESULTS
4.6 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
4.7 QUALITY CRITERIA
CHAPTER 5 INTERPRETATION OF RESEARCH RESULTS
5.1 UNDERSTANDING RESILIENCE IN GLPFS
5.2 FACTORS INFLUENCING RESILIENCE IN GLPFS
CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS, CONTRIBUTIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF RESEARCH RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTURE RESEARCH
6.1 SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH RESULTS
6.2 CONTRIBUTIONS TO EXISTING BODY OF KNOWLEDGE
6.3 LIMITATIONS OF THE RESEARCH RESULTS
6.4 RECOMMENDATIONS
LIST OF REFERENCE 
LIST OF APPENDICES
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