Title

Mothering Taboo Talk

Presenter Information

Elizabeth Francis-Connolly

Start Time

24-10-2008 3:20 PM

End Time

24-10-2008 3:50 PM

Abstract

Motherhood is a common occupation, it is a major occupational role for many women in the United States, yet it is this very commonality that masks the importance and complexity of this role. Research to date tends to focus on the transition to parenthood and mothering young children with little attention paid to how mothering evolves and changes through the life course as both children and mothers age and mature. The literature in occupational science has focused primarily on mothering with a disability or parenting children with disabilities (Olson & Esdaile, 2004). Arendell (2000) in her decade review of the motherhood research, challenged us to explore how mothers negotiate the activities of childrearing and how women are affected by mothering. The purpose of this study is to explore how mothering experience changes and evolves over time as mothers and their children age and mature. A qualitative methodology, specifically grounded theory was chosen for this study in that it allows for in-depth exploration of a topic with the outcome of generating a new theoretical framework or adding to existing theory. Semi-structured focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted over a two-year period with more than forty Caucasian, married women living in the Midwestern United States. These women ranged in age from 24-59 years of age. Data analysis consistent with grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006) was performed. Although there were several themes that emerged from this study, the focus in this paper will be on the theme of “taboo talk.” I have labeled this as such because I found that mothers of all ages spoke of the socio-cultural press to only share the positives of their mothering experience. There was an unwritten rule to not share the negative side of being a mother. This silence put an added strain on their mothering role and their perceptions of whether they were a good mother or not. This theme is noteworthy for both researchers and practitioners in that it furthers our understanding of the tension many women face in this major occupational role.

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Oct 24th, 3:20 PM Oct 24th, 3:50 PM

Mothering Taboo Talk

Motherhood is a common occupation, it is a major occupational role for many women in the United States, yet it is this very commonality that masks the importance and complexity of this role. Research to date tends to focus on the transition to parenthood and mothering young children with little attention paid to how mothering evolves and changes through the life course as both children and mothers age and mature. The literature in occupational science has focused primarily on mothering with a disability or parenting children with disabilities (Olson & Esdaile, 2004). Arendell (2000) in her decade review of the motherhood research, challenged us to explore how mothers negotiate the activities of childrearing and how women are affected by mothering. The purpose of this study is to explore how mothering experience changes and evolves over time as mothers and their children age and mature. A qualitative methodology, specifically grounded theory was chosen for this study in that it allows for in-depth exploration of a topic with the outcome of generating a new theoretical framework or adding to existing theory. Semi-structured focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted over a two-year period with more than forty Caucasian, married women living in the Midwestern United States. These women ranged in age from 24-59 years of age. Data analysis consistent with grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006) was performed. Although there were several themes that emerged from this study, the focus in this paper will be on the theme of “taboo talk.” I have labeled this as such because I found that mothers of all ages spoke of the socio-cultural press to only share the positives of their mothering experience. There was an unwritten rule to not share the negative side of being a mother. This silence put an added strain on their mothering role and their perceptions of whether they were a good mother or not. This theme is noteworthy for both researchers and practitioners in that it furthers our understanding of the tension many women face in this major occupational role.