Residential immersive life skills programs for youth with disabilities: Experiences of parents and shifts in parenting approaches
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INTRODUCTION: Residential immersive life skills (RILS) programs are designed for youth with disabilities and facilitate the development of adaptive behaviors for life skills required to navigate adulthood. This study explored parents' experiences of the RILS program journey, shifts in parenting approaches, and the implications of those shifts. METHODS: This study draws on twenty-three qualitative interviews that were conducted with nine parents of youth who attended RILS programs in Ontario, Canada. Three rounds of interviews were conducted at three different time points: Pre-program, 3 months post-program, and 12 months post-program. Data were analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory approach. RESULTS: The interviews captured parents' experiences of the RILS program journey and how their parenting changed as a result. Three overarching themes emerged: (1) Anticipation of RILS programs served as a catalyst for experiencing positive and negative tensions in parenting; (2) Parenting shifted following RILS programs; and (3) Where parenting shifts were limited, challenges for youth arose and reduced youth future growth. CONCLUSION: Parenting approaches can shift as a result of youth attending RILS programs. These shifts can create complex and challenging implications for parents as they seek to further encourage youths' development. This study offers an understanding of the implications of parenting during youths' developmental transition of adolescence to adulthood, and offers recommendations to further support parents in sustaining youth development of life skills during this developmental transition.
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