Experiences and resilience of school-age mothers: Their own perspectives

Prof Doc Thesis

Meldrum-Carter, Laura 2009. Experiences and resilience of school-age mothers: Their own perspectives. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsMeldrum-Carter, Laura
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The psychological phenomenon of resilience encapsulates how people cope successfully
in challenging situations. School-age motherhood is a clear example of a challenging
situation but much of the research literature has focused on identifying the reasons why
young women become pregnant during their school years rather than seeking ways to
support them when it happens.
Five school-age mothers between the ages of 15 and 18 from semi-rural areas in
England were interviewed in detail about their own perspectives on their experiences
and resilience. Their accounts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological
Analysis and the meanings attached to their accounts were interpreted as showing clear
commonalities of experience, although these were illustrated in individual ways. Three
main themes emerged: 'Coping with conflicting identities', 'Adjusting to parenthood'
and 'Ways of developing and maintaining resilience'.
The first theme encapsulates the difficulties experienced with managing the contrast
between ascribed identities (such the negative 'teen mums' stereotype), and how
participants see themselves as responsible, hard-working parents with a range of goals
and ambitions. The second theme refers to how participants prioritise their children
above all other concerns, adjust rapidly and effectively to parenthood and experience a
sense of differentiation from their school-age peers. The third theme describes how
participants develop and maintain resilience through accessing unique combinations of
external supportive factors including social networks and professional input, employing
personal coping strategies such as self talk and having characteristics such as the ability
to build relationships. Participants identified themselves as resilient and in some cases
explicitly related this to their motherhood.
Implications of these findings for educational psychology and practice were discussed.

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Deposited19 Jun 2014
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