Children who care : a violation of childhood?
The vast majority of the research literature on the issue of children caring for their parents (Young Carers) has reflected a social policy standpoint and has consistently focused on the negative consequences of caring responsibilities during childhood. To date the psychological literature has failed to address the needs and experiences of children who act as care providers. Through the use of qualitative methodology, this paper explores the ways in which children conceptualise their role as carers and how this may be more or less informed by the in social constructions of childhood. It also examines how traditional psychological theories on child and adolescent development have both informed and limited our understanding of the issue. While the results of this study demonstrate that the demands of the caring role has many emotional, educational and social costs for young carers it also discusses the ways in which young carers perceive the caring role to be a positive and enriching experience which facilitated a closer parent-child relationship, instilled discipline and prepared them for independent adult living. The clinical implications of these findings are addressed and recommendations made for supportive professional imput.