Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Northern British Columbian mothers: Raising adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
by Johnston, Mary Suzanne, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2008, 157; 3330720
Abstract (Summary)

Northern British Columbian Aboriginal mothers raising adolescents with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) face many challenges. This interpretive ethnography provides an understanding of how these mothers interpreted and responded to their adolescents' FASD. It affirms the experiences of Aboriginal mothers and acknowledges their life stories and those of their adolescent children.

The concepts of vulnerability, marginalization, and mothering, conceptualized within the theoretical perspectives of postcolonialism, provided the framework for this study. Postcolonial perspectives were particularly relevant to this research: the explicit aftereffects of colonialism on the well-being of Aboriginal women have shaped the worldview of mainstream society resulting in marginalization and stigmatization. A postcolonial perspective suggests that FASD is a problem compounded by colonization; until the underlying compounding issues are addressed, the incidence of FASD among Aboriginal people will continue to increase.

English-speaking Aboriginal women with one or more children between the ages of 14 and 18 years affected by FASD were recruited for the study. Appropriate measures were taken to ensure trustworthiness, verisimilitude, and legitimacy. Data collection included three sequential audio-recorded interviews with eight women over a specific time. Interview data were enhanced by document review, intervals of observation participation, and the examination of other historically and culturally relevant data.

The interpretive theory derived from the data, Mothering from the Margins, explains how Aboriginal mothers raise their adolescent children who have FASD. The theory provides a perspective that enables nurses to view mothers with adolescents affected by FASD in an all-encompassing manner, and unifies the experiences of participants mothering adolescents with FASD. Aboriginal mothers of adolescents with FASD continue to experience societal blame and marginalization for consuming alcohol during pregnancy. This study extends the knowledge of how this blaming and marginalization experience plays out in the lives of both mothers and children. The findings debunk the stereotypical myth that Aboriginal mothers are not good mothers. In fact, the findings from this study demonstrate how, despite all the difficulties and challenges faced by study participants, they have demonstrated adaptability, confidence, and care in their mothering roles.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Boyle, Joyceen S.
Commitee: Badger, Terry A., Reed, Pamela G.
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Nursing
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 69/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing
Keywords: Aboriginal, Adolescents, Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, Marginalization, Mothering, Postcolonial, Vulnerability
Publication Number: 3330720
ISBN: 978-0-549-86336-6
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