“I'm just a mom that happens to be a bit younger": A qualitative study of teenage mothering in Canada

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Teenage motherhood
Teenage pregnancy
Young Parent Program
Qualitative research
Narrative interviewing

Drawing on an interpretive approach, the purpose of this qualitative study is to explore teenage mothers’ perceptions, interpretations, and experiences of teenage pregnancy and motherhood. Methods included participant observation at a community-based Young Parent Program in British Columbia and narrative interviewing with six teenage mothers (age 17 to 20). This thesis explores the participant mothers’ experiences of teenage pregnancy, including their initial reactions to becoming pregnant and the process of deciding to keep their babies. In addition, this study investigates the participants’ diverse experiences of teenage motherhood, from the perceived happiness, stability, and motivation gained from mothering to feelings of social isolation, relationship difficulties, and financial strain. Overall, this study demonstrates how teenage pregnancy and motherhood are too complex to be understood as purely ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ social phenomena. Rather, experiences of teenage pregnancy and motherhood are interpreted and perceived by young mothers in multiple ways, which may shift over time and in different circumstances and contexts.

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Jane Pulkingham
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.