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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A study of maternal affect and the autonomy/separation process of African American daughters
by Dale, Mary Ellen, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2009, 137; 3356891
Abstract (Summary)

Using interview data from 16 African-American mothers with teenage daughters, this study employed grounded theory methodology integrated with the heuristic method to investigate affect experienced by African-American mothers who are in the developmental process of separation from their daughters. Results showed that the separation process was initiated when the daughters were between 12-14 years of age. The separation period was characterized as one of confusion and strain for mothers, with a recurring conflict of mothers pulling their daughters closer, in reaction to the daughters' behavior of pushing the mother away. Peer selection was identified as a major source of conflict between mothers and daughters. The study showed that mothers internalize blame for conflicts with their daughters as well as with other members of the household. The lack of being in control in regard to the relationship with the separating daughters was identified as a source of resentment for mothers. Spending time with their daughters was identified as a source of happiness for mothers. On the whole, research results demonstrated the utility of clinical observation and therapeutic sensitivity. Such constructs may explain the interplay between source and outcome, and suggest how mothers might become more equipped with knowledge, understanding, and realistic expectations during the emotional processes in the mother-daughter dyads. Research used environment, experience, perception, engrained habits, and family rituals to explain a myriad of situational conflict between mother and teen daughters. The results revealed self-reported histories of closeness and a gradual separation between mother and daughter. It was found that those similarities in mothers' history, personal stories, and interaction with their mothers, coincided with similarities in their daughters' behaviors and how they accepted or rejected their mother's authority. Analysis revealed a mutual dissatisfaction between mother and daughter, and a desire on the part of mothers to retain control and stabilize what they perceived as unbearable situations Implications for education and mental health settings were discussed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ryan, Lawrence J.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Black studies, Womens studies, Individual & family studies, African American Studies
Keywords: African American mothers and teen girls, African American women, African-American, Autonomy, Daughters, Feelings and motherhood, Internalization and separation, Mother blaming, Separation, Teenage daughters
Publication Number: 3356891
ISBN: 978-1-109-13117-8
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