Mothering and trust among women living with a history of childhood violence experiences: A critical feminist narrative inquiry

  • Author / Creator
    Pitre, Nicole
  • Abstract The context of mothering is one of fluid and complex interactions between personal, historical, relational, and normative expectations. The legacy of childhood violence experiences adds another layer to this multifaceted experience. Mothering and trust among women living with the consequences of a personal history of childhood violence experiences were explored through narrative inquiry informed by the theoretical triangulation of critical, feminist, and symbolic interactionist worldviews. Twelve women were interviewed. Stories of mothering were elicited as well as stories of comfort, confidence, trust, and distrust of self and others. Women’s stories highlighted their reflexivity as well as their interactions with their children, others in their personal and extended context, expert systems, and metanarratives (ideology). Analysis and interpretation first focused on women’s stories of their personal experiences to understand the significance of persons and events on maternal choices and decisions. An examination of women’s stories of their interactions with symbolic, structural, and ideological conditions followed to highlight intersecting forces facilitating or impeding their agency as social actors. Findings revealed that women experienced pervasive self-doubt and persistent distrust of others in the exercise of maternal agency. Women managed self-doubt through a search for anchors and constant comparisons while they coped with distrust through hypervigilance and gatekeeping. Women were determined to change the story for themselves and their children through the reweaving of a self and a world while they continually searched for the safety, control, voice, and identity that were lost through childhood violence experiences. Women identified many challenging interactions with symbolic and structural systems largely due to adherence to motherhood and family ideals. Women found very few meaningful sources of support as they mothered their children. They provided several suggestions for programs to better meet their needs and minimize their experiences of stigmatization and marginalization. This paper-format dissertation includes an introduction, one paper discussing critical feminist narrative inquiry, and another addressing research design issues relevant to memory and recall conditions when studying emotionally-laden events. Two other papers highlight findings. In the conclusion, recommendations emphasize social justice through sensitive and empowering practices, research strategies to minimize vulnerability, and suggestions for future research.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2011
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.