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Returning Home in the Event of Cancer, a Threat for Teenagers Individualization? Mother’s Feedbacks

Anaïs Mary

Research framework: This article is the result of a Phd thesis that aims to understand how parental practices and relationships between children and their mothers are redefined when they are affected by a cancer.

Objectives: Our aim is to show that for some suffering mothers who have reinvested their homes during their treatments, cancer may be perceived as a barrier to the children’s individualization as adolescents.

Methodology: We will rely on fourteen semi-structured interviews. They were conducted with mothers who had teenagers between the ages of eleven to eighteen and who are not working during their cancer treatment.

Results: In their case, cancer can be experienced as an obstacle to the individualization of teenagers when it is a threat for their juvenile sociability, to their “experimentations” (Ramos, 2001; 2002) in solitude of the family home and/or to their expression of a “young” identity. When viewed from this perspective, illness is blamed for the deterioration of mother’s relationships with their teenagers.

Conclusions: This relational degradation highlights an imbalance due to the continuous presence of mothers in their homes, which tends to relegate the “young person” behind the figures of the “son/daughter of” and/or the “student”.

Contribution: This article questions the “normal” nature of adolescents individualization that may be experienced with difficulty for some mothers affected by cancer.