Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultural meanings of mothering for African American adolescent mothers: Through their own eyes.
by Dole, Debora M., Ph.D., University of Cincinnati, 2009, 135; 3390374
Abstract (Summary)

Nationally, African American babies die at twice the rate of their Caucasian counterparts - 14.1/1000 versus 6.9/1000 for the 2004 reporting period (CDC, 2005). African American babies in Hamilton County, Ohio died at nearly three times (17.8/1000) the national rate of Caucasian babies (6.9/1000) (CDC, 2005; Ohio Department of Health, 2004). While the majority of infant deaths are due to causes such as prematurity, low birth weight and congenital anomalies, thirty percent of those African American infant deaths are due to preventable accidents, neglect and abuse (Every Child Succeeds, 2004; Children's Bureau, 2007). Infants born to adolescent mothers are at increased risk of death due to neglect and abuse as compared to babies born to their older counterparts (CDC, 2004; Mathews & MacDorman, 2007)). The alarming disparity in infant mortality has remained unchanged despite national and local efforts to develop program interventions that focus on parenting deficits.

Mothering practices of African American women have been affected by social, political, race and gender issues that have altered the ways in which cultural practices are transferred generationally. Traditional biomedical research has focused on the African American adolescent mother as pathologic in her ability to parent effectively. Traditional approaches have failed to consider the effects of the alteration in generational transfer of traditional mothering practices. This study explored the cultural meanings of mothering of nine African American adolescent mothers using Photovoice, a participatory research methodology in which participants were given cameras to document their own experiences. This study explored adolescent mothering from the inside out revealing how cultural mothering practices are being transferred generationally. An intersectional approach using an integrated conceptual framework including critical feminist theory, critical social theory and critical race theory provided theoretical support for exploring mothering practices through the socially constructed concepts of gender, class and race.

The approach and process itself provided participants with a forum to identify and share their own cultural strengths and positive mothering practices with each other. Themes of building a network, seeing the future and sharing responsibilities emerged as an avenue for the intra-generational transfer of positive mothering practices. Insight gained from this study will result in new and innovative approaches that will guide researchers in conducting community based participatory inquiry designed to assist communities in identifying their own existing cultural strengths. Community health professionals in partnership with African American communities can then build on those strengths to develop useful and relevant strategies that support adolescent mothers and their infants in an effort to reduce the disparity in infant mortality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Shambley-Ebron, Donna Z.
Commitee: Brydon-Miller, Mary, Vaughn, Lisa
School: University of Cincinnati
Department: Nursing - Doctoral Program
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 71/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Black studies, Womens studies, Nursing, Social structure
Keywords: Adolescents, African-American, Culture, Mothering, Mothers, Participatory action research, Photovoice
Publication Number: 3390374
ISBN: 978-1-109-58993-1
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