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"You don't know half the story": Deepening the dialogue with young mothers in Australia

Brand, G., Morrison, P. and Down, B. (2015) "You don't know half the story": Deepening the dialogue with young mothers in Australia. Journal of Research in Nursing, 20 (5). pp. 353-369.

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Pregnant and young mothers’ stories often go untold or are poorly represented within dominant health and social care discourses. Consequently, narratives of young mothers are largely absent from social and health care literature, especially in relation to how young women make sense, understand, and experience young motherhood. Drawing on 7 months of participant observation fieldwork at a community service, and 11 in-depth interviews, we discuss six metaphorical themes which capture the experiences of young mothers using a narrative approach. These include: Picking up the Pieces; Walking a Narrow and Familiar Path; Jumping over Puddles; Riding the Rapids to Motherhood; Living with Dirty Looks; and Asking for Directions. Contrary to the wider community’s deficit view and stereotypes of young mothers, what emerged from the narratives was quite a different story. Becoming a young mother meant taking a stand against stigma from the wider community; recognising motherhood as a significant and transformational turning point in their lives, one that opened doors to alternative storylines of hope, autonomy and agency, especially given a supportive context. These findings enhance our understandings by widening the lens to diverse realities that exist in young mothers’ lives and present a strong case for using a narrative approach to research and practice when working with young mothers.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Education
School of Health Professions
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
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