THESIS DEFENCE: Darcie Brown, “Voices of Self-Compassion in Parents of Twice-Exceptional Children”
Supervisor: Dr. Krista Socholotiuk, SFU
Second Reader: Dr. Janelle Kwee, CPSY
External Examiner: Dr. Megan Foley Nicpon, UIowa
Exam Chair: TBD
Twice-exceptional children are both gifted and have at least one area of disability, the combination of which presents unique parenting challenges. The sources of challenge for these parents are multilayered and multisystemic, but they are important to understand given the central role that strong and well-resourced parents play in the success of their twice-exceptional children. The aim of this research was to attend to the voices of parents of twice-exceptional children who are doing the work of being self-compassionate in the presence of these challenges. Self-compassion is treating the self with understanding and acceptance when faced with imperfections; it has been shown to be a powerful source of coping and resilience for a wide range of populations. This study was guided by two key research questions: What are the voices of self-compassion in self-compassionate parents of twice-exceptional children? And, how do parents of twice-exceptional children describe the role of self-compassion in their lives? This constructivist study used the listening guide—a qualitative, relational, voice-centred method to investigate these questions (Gilligan, 2015). Self-compassionate parents (N = 7) of twice-exceptional children were interviewed about their understandings of self-compassion in parenting their twice-exceptional children. Data analysis revealed three groupings of voices in response to the first research question: Presence and Wise voices were the over-arching voices of self-compassion, and Demand voices emerged as a dissonant, non-self-compassionate counterpoint to them. The four themes that emerged in response to the second research question revealed parents used self-compassion to weather challenges, to remain mindful despite difficulties, to engage wiser problem-solving, and to nurture their important relationships. It is hoped that these self-compassionate voices of parents of twice-exceptional children will foster awareness, will amplify their experience, and will use their voices to help shape and inform ways to support and care for twice-exceptional families.