An exploration of parenting in relation to young mothers

Dickson, Clair E. (2006) An exploration of parenting in relation to young mothers. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The use of appropriate parenting educational strategies to support young mothers is a neglected research topic. How young mothers are best supported to cope as parents is not discussed in depth in the literature. Currently service provision caters in the main for 'older' mothers and the focus and methods used are not necessarily culturally relevant to teenage mothers' lifestyles or needs. A review of the current literature indicates that adequate parenting education and support is necessary to help young parents to become good parents. This thesis presents the findings from an exploratory qualitative study which examines parenting in relation to young mothers. The Tameside and Glossop Positive Parenting Programme' (Taylor, 1997) was chosen because it was developed for and is currently being used in the same area as the sample in this study.
The intention of this study was to analyse :parenting services and the needs of young mothers and to explore how the two relate to each other. The focus of this exploratory study was on the perceptions of the professional and non-professional people who work with young mothers.
The aims of the study were to: (1) achieve a critical appreciation of parenting in general and the needs of young mothers; (2) elicit the opinions and experiences of facilitators regarding a parenting programme (Tameside and Glossop Positive
Parenting Programme) and the needs of young mothers and the 'daily issues' young mothers face; (3) elicit the perspectives of young mothers on their needs and the 'issues' they face in their daily lives; (4) develop a focused understanding of how
useful the Tameside and Glossop Positive Parenting Programme is for young mothers and how it could be further developed to provide greater support.
Semi structured interviews were conducted with new (n=9) and experienced (n=7) facilitators of parenting education programmes and also with young mothers (n=3). The interview data were analysed using a thematic network technique. Common themes emerged which provided valuable insight into parenting in relation to young mothers. The key themes for new and experienced facilitators were: (1) the significance of support networks; (2) young mothers expectations of what being a mother involves; (3) similarities and differences between young mothers and older mothers; (4) parenting support can be adapted to suit young mothers; (5) the impact of parenting education on staff; and (6) positive aspects of young mothers and parenting
The key themes for the interviews with young mothers were: (1) a sense of pride in their baby; (2) having a baby encouraged maturity in the mother; (3) fitting the baby into their existing life; (4) embarrassment and negative experiences since having the baby; (5) social support since having a baby; (6) planning for the future; (7) confidence in caring for children; and (8) young mums and making services more accessible.
The results highlight how currently service provision does not fully meet the needs of young mothers in relation to parenting because parenting services are designed to meet the needs of 'older' mothers. There were distinct differences between the views of facilitators (primarily these focused on negative views of young mothers) and the views of young mothers (which focused onmany positive aspects of young motherhood and young mothers getting on with their lives).
In conclusion it can be seen that no one method of parenting education will suit all young mothers. Individual assessment is a key concept when addressing individual needs particularly since the young mothers in the study do not see themselves as the same as older mothers

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