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Title:The meaning of motherhood: adolescent childbearing and its significance for poor Dominican Haitian women
Author(s):Salusky, Ida Shiela R.
Advisor(s):Kral, Michael J.
Department / Program:Psychology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Adolescent Motherhood
social marginalization
social resistance
Action Research
Abstract:This article looks at how a group of marginalized young women, in the Dominican Republic, understand and conceptualize the experience of becoming a mother at an early age. The dominant discourse on adolescent motherhood frames the phenomenon as problematic. Adolescent motherhood is typically associated with poor economic and educational outcomes, despite flaws in research used to support this point. Little research exists examining the voices of young mothers themselves. This articles aims to contribute to a better understanding of how a disenfranchised group of young females narrate the experience of motherhood and its significance. The study utilizes a qualitative design and consists of 21 semi-structured in-depth interviews. Adolescent mothers narrate four common themes in the experience of early motherhood: life before pregnancy, feelings surrounding pregnancy, challenges to motherhood and benefits to motherhood. Participants narrate that they face formidable obstacles to obtaining secondary and post secondary education as well as financial security, independent of motherhood. Narratives suggest that adolescent motherhood may provide unconditional love, a sense of purpose in life, the hope for future financial support and an alternative pathway to adulthood for poor Dominican Haitian adolescent females. These findings contrast sharply with the prominent discourse on adolescent motherhood. I recommend that researchers, policy makers and interventionists need to look at local understandings and conceptualizations of adolescent motherhood before stigmatizing this experience.
Issue Date:2011-05-25
Rights Information:
Copyright 2011 Ida Shiela R. Salusky
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-05-26
Date Deposited:2011-05

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