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Title: What does it mean to be a non-resident mother? : a psychosocial narrative approach
Author: Kielty, Sandra.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2445 5892
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia;
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2004
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Over the last few years researchers have paid increasing attention to the experiences of parents and children of post-divorce family transitions. This body of work has largely focused on the 'traditional' arrangement of resident mothers and non-resident fathers and to date there has been little research on non-residential motherhood in the U. K. This study addresses this gap in the research literature by examining post-divorce parenting from the perspective of non-resident mothers. The research design employs a narrative approach to explore the subjective perspectives and experiences of a sample of twenty non-resident mothers. Data collection is based on unstructured interviews where each respondent was simply asked to tell the story of their life as a non resident mother: how they came to be living apart from their children and what this experience has been like for them. Analysis considers the characteristics of women's described experiences of non-resident motherhood and how they explained and evaluated their situations. Findings highlight the ways in which gendered societal and internalised expectations about mothering impact upon women's interpretations and understanding. Notably, all respondents employed child welfare discourse and used their narrative accounts to defend against a 'bad' mother label by providing a legitimising account of how and why their particular arrangement came into being. Analysis also reveals significant differences in the narratives delivered by those who entered non-resident motherhood voluntarily and those who 'lost' residence to fathers against their will. Distinct patterns emerged regarding women's perspectives on motherhood, their representations of child welfare needs and evaluations of father residence according to the degree of choice and control they felt they had over child residency and contact. Women who elected to be the non-resident parent delivered the most positive evaluations of their experience whilst those who lost residence to fathers against their will were consistently negative in the attitudes they expressed. Once set, these narratives appear 'fixed' and seem act as a supporting framework enabling these women to maintain a positive maternal identity. The thesis concludes by discussing the implications of highlighting the gender specifics of non-residential parenting in family policy and legislation and the ways in which narrative interventions might be usefully applied in situations of parental conflict and contact disputes post-divorce
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available