Title

The Co-Occupations of Mothers and Young Children

Presenter Information

Judith Olson

Start Time

16-10-2002 12:00 AM

End Time

18-10-2002 12:00 AM

Abstract

Early mothering, that is, the mothering of the young child, is replete with activities that can be considered co-occupations. Zemke & Clark (1996) have written that the concept of co-occupations involves the active agency of two participants – both participants are actively engaged. For mothers of young children, these co-occupations are often caregiving occupations. For example, mothers feed; infants eat. Mothers soothe; infants are comforted. Mothers get their infants ready for sleep; infants transition from the awake to the sleep state and maintain that state. Hence, co-occupations are co-creations.

In this presentation, the concept of co-occupations will be explored as it relates to early mothering. A review of the literature on co-occupation will be presented. This review will include, but not be limited to, the work of Fraits-Hunt and Zemke (1996), Dunlea (1996), and Pierce (2003). Additionally, I will present information from a phenomeno logical study of infant mental health interventions that describes difficulties in the co-occupations of mothers and infants. These co-occupations difficulties threaten to become routinized patterns of interaction that are performed within an environment that can only be described as stressful.

I propose that co-occupations performed in stress-filled environments result in negative emotional experiences and these have deleterious effects on the developing mother-infant relationship. The emotional climate surrounding the co-occupations of mothers and their infants is critical because it forms the crucible within which young children develop emotionally and begin to learn self-regulation. It is simultaneously the crucible for the development of maternal competence and satisfaction with mothering occupations. Therefore, the nature of co-occupations requires investigation and understanding in order that occupational therapists working with mothers and their infants can provide competence and caring services.

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Oct 16th, 12:00 AM Oct 18th, 12:00 AM

The Co-Occupations of Mothers and Young Children

Early mothering, that is, the mothering of the young child, is replete with activities that can be considered co-occupations. Zemke & Clark (1996) have written that the concept of co-occupations involves the active agency of two participants – both participants are actively engaged. For mothers of young children, these co-occupations are often caregiving occupations. For example, mothers feed; infants eat. Mothers soothe; infants are comforted. Mothers get their infants ready for sleep; infants transition from the awake to the sleep state and maintain that state. Hence, co-occupations are co-creations.

In this presentation, the concept of co-occupations will be explored as it relates to early mothering. A review of the literature on co-occupation will be presented. This review will include, but not be limited to, the work of Fraits-Hunt and Zemke (1996), Dunlea (1996), and Pierce (2003). Additionally, I will present information from a phenomeno logical study of infant mental health interventions that describes difficulties in the co-occupations of mothers and infants. These co-occupations difficulties threaten to become routinized patterns of interaction that are performed within an environment that can only be described as stressful.

I propose that co-occupations performed in stress-filled environments result in negative emotional experiences and these have deleterious effects on the developing mother-infant relationship. The emotional climate surrounding the co-occupations of mothers and their infants is critical because it forms the crucible within which young children develop emotionally and begin to learn self-regulation. It is simultaneously the crucible for the development of maternal competence and satisfaction with mothering occupations. Therefore, the nature of co-occupations requires investigation and understanding in order that occupational therapists working with mothers and their infants can provide competence and caring services.