The daily practices of mothering within adversity

Authors: Cindy Sousa*,
Topics: Gender
Keywords: mothering, feminist geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Endymion, Sheraton, 8th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Purpose: The global health ramifications of political and community violence are extremely acute for children. At the same time, children also exhibit considerable resilience within violence, largely due to the care they receive from their parents, particularly their mothers. Yet, we know relatively little about the realities of mothering within violence contexts. Analyses of how mothers promote child well-being cannot be decoupled from understanding the contexts of power surrounding motherhood (Collins, 1990). Furthermore, conceptualizing maternal caregiving in settings where your children are regularly at risk requires attention to how mothers articulate struggle and resilience in their quotidian practices, what Scheper-Hughes (1993) terms “the pragmatics” of mothering.
Methods: The goal of this research was to better understand the lived realities of mothering by taking seriously the experiences, identities, and subjecthood of mothers living within violent settings. Drawing on parenting science and feminist perspectives on mothering and violence, analyses presented here uses original qualitative data, and an extensive systematic review of the literature, to explore the strategies and psychological costs of mothering within conflict settings.
Conclusions: Violence creates substantial suffering for mothers as it undermines their mental health, child-rearing practices, sense of competence, and connections to culture and community. Mothers also demonstrate considerable coping strategies, including stronger parenting practices; drawing on culture, faith, and community; activism, confronting oppressors, and fleeing; and nurturing feelings of hope and determination for and with their children. Findings point to the need for expanded frameworks and interventions that reflect both suffering and resilience surrounding mothering within violence.

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