Mothering as a three-generational process : the psychological experience of low-income mothers sharing childcare with their mothers

De Villiers, Suzanne (2011-03)

Thesis (PhD)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Very little is known about the psychological experiences related to childcare use among lowincome mothers in South Africa. In rural and semi-rural communities, where affordable and accessible childcare is almost non-existent, low-income mothers often have no alternative but to rely on their own mothers for childcare. Despite strong theoretically based indications that these particular childcare arrangements are psychologically complex, research on this topic is almost completely lacking. This dissertation sets out to investigate (a) how childcare arrangements (including multigenerational childcare) manifest in one particular low-income South African community, and (b) how low-income South African mothers experienced the use of childcare psychologically. This study was set in a poor, semi-rural, so-called Coloured community in the Western Cape, South Africa. Two open-ended, in-depth interviews were conducted with eight participants. The transcribed interviews were analysed using constructivist grounded theory and case studies in a sequential data analysis approach. Theoretically, this study was informed by postmodernism, social constructionism, feminism and psychoanalytic theory. The data analysis resulted in a detailed documentation of the range of childcare arrangements utilised by the participants. It further showed that contextual, relational and personal constraints made it impossible for the participants to mother and care for their children as they wanted to. The participants had to compromise on their childcare ideals and this created a range of psychological and emotional sequelae. In order to cope with these, the participants resorted to both conscious and unconscious coping mechanisms and processes. The findings indicated that the use of multigenerational childcare was psychologically complex, as mother-daughter relationships consciously and unconsciously impacted on childcare decision-making, the emotional and psychological repercussions and the participants’ coping therewith. The absence of men and fathers in the provision of childcare concurred with international findings on the gendered nature of childcare. Based on the findings of this study, it can be concluded that mothering and childcare are indeed issues of concern to low-income mothers. It is also a subject that warrants further investigation in the discipline of psychology. Recommendations in this regard are included and highlight the need to use theoretical frameworks and research methods that are sensitive to the multilayered, complex psychological experiences of motherhood and childcare among low-income women.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Baie min is bekend oor die sielkundige ervarings wat verband hou met kindersorg onder laeinkomste moeders in Suid-Afrika. In landelike en semi-landelike gebiede waar bekostigbare en toeganklike kindersorg feitlik niebestaande is, het lae-inkomstemoeders dikwels geen ander keuse as om op hul eie moeders staat te maak vir kindersorg nie. Ten spyte van sterk teoreties gebaseerde aanduidings dat hierdie spesifieke kindersorgreëlings sielkundig kompleks is, ontbreek navorsing oor hierdie onderwerp feitlik heeltemal. Hierdie proefskrif ondersoek (a) hoe kindersorgreëlings (met inbegrip van multigeneratiewe kindersorg) manifesteer in een spesifieke Suid-Afrikaanse lae-inkomstegemeenskap en (b) hoe laeinkomste Suid-Afrikaanse moeders die gebruik van kindersorg sielkundig beleef. Die studie is in ’n behoeftige, semi-landelike, sogenaamde bruin gemeenskap in die Wes- Kaap geplaas. Twee oop, diepgaande onderhoude is met agt deelnemers gevoer. Die getranskribeerde onderhoude is geanaliseer met gebruikmaking van konstruktivisties gegronde teorie en gevallestudies volgens ’n sekwensiële data-ontledingsbenadering. Teoreties is hierdie studie beïnvloed deur postmodernisme, sosiale konstruksionisme, feminisme en psigo-analitiese teorie. Die data-ontleding het gelei tot ’n gedetailleerde dokumentasie van die omvang van kindersorgreëlings wat deur die deelnemers gebruik is. Dit het verder gewys dat kontekstuele, relasionele en persoonlike beperkings dit vir die deelnemers onmoontlik gemaak het om hul kinders te bemoeder en te versorg soos hulle graag wou. Die deelnemers moes hul kindersorgideale kompromitteer en dit het ’n reeks sielkundige en emosionele gevolge geskep. Ten einde dit te hanteer, het die deelnemers gebruik gemaak van sowel bewuste as onbewuste hanteringsmeganismes en -prosesse. Die bevindinge het aangedui dat die gebruik van multigeneratiewe kindersorg sielkundig kompleks was, aangesien moeder-dogter verhoudings bewustelik en onbewustelik ’n uitwerking gehad het op kindersorgbesluite, die emosionele en sielkundige belewing daarvan, en die deelnemers se hantering daarvan. Die afwesigheid van mans en vaders in die voorsiening van kindersorg het ooreengestem met internasionale bevindinge oor die gender-gebaseerde aard van kindersorg. Gebaseer op die bevindinge van hierdie studie kan tot die slotsom gekom word dat moedersorg en kindersorg inderdaad kwessies van belang onder lae-inkomstemoeders is. Dit is ook ’n onderwerp wat verdere navorsing in die sielkunde vakgebied regverdig. Aanbevelings in hierdie verband word ingesluit en vestig die aandag op die behoefte om teoretiese raamwerke en navorsingsmetodes te gebruik wat sensitief is ten opsigte van die veelvlakkige, komplekse sielkundige ervarings van moederskap en kindersorg onder laeinkomstevroue.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6634
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