The Meaning of Parenting for Vulnerable Families Participating in a Home Visiting Program: A Critical Ethnomethodological Study

Jane Caldwell

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Parenting is complex and rarely predictable. Parenting practices represent the intersection of multiple, interacting and mutually dependent circumstances, and parents must call upon multiple ways of knowing to enact the role of parenting. Every parent is different, each with unique qualities and each facing different challenges in their parenting. Limited previous studies on parenting within vulnerable families have taken a ''deficit'' approach, with vulnerable families being compared to what is considered the normative standard of high and middle-class families. No research was found on the meaning of parenting for vulnerable families. This critical ethnomethodological research sought to identify through critical analysis the meaning of parenting for vulnerable families participating in a home visiting programme. This research approach was selected to examine the phenomena within its unique social setting, as it is congruent with the current philosophies of nursing that incorporate the principles of holism and humanism. Social ecology was the conceptual framework chosen to guide the study, as it is concerned with progressive change in families, recognises the need to meet families at their edges of understanding and action and acknowledges their past and present relational efforts.Two in-depth interviews with each of the 20 participants (families) were conducted to collect the data. Participants included parents who had at least one child and were the primary caregivers of their children. Data was collected by semi-structured interview. The constant comparative method was used to analyse the data. The findings indicate that the meaning of parenting for vulnerable families is shaped by past and present life experiences. These experiences included the impact of previous involvement with child protection services as children, and the resultant hypervigilance in parenting. Preconceived prejudices and judgements of their vulnerability by health providers made the families'' journey in self-identity and parental identity development arduous. However, with their self-identified positive parenting role models, motivation and determination, the families developed healthy self-efficacy as well as parental self-efficacy to become confident parents who revelled in their parenting role. The families in this study all sought a better future for their children, were extremely resourceful within their community and were the true experts on their own needs.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Charles Sturt University
    • Dietsch, Jennie, Co-Supervisor
    • Mackey, Sandra, Co-Supervisor
    • Fitzgerald, Geraldine, Co-Supervisor
    Award date01 Aug 2014
    Place of PublicationAustralia
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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