Care Leavers' Experiences of Being and Becoming Parents
Weston, Jade Louise
1.0 Abstract Aim: The aim of this study was to explore care leavers’ experiences of parenting. Although research has previously been carried out on this area, there is a lack of research on mature care leavers’ experiences of parenthood which this study attempts to address. It was hoped that this research might further illuminate our understanding of care leavers as parents, and highlight potential areas of clinical need and ways in which these could be addressed therapeutically. Method: This study employed a qualitative design through the use of semi-structured interviews with six care leavers who were mothers; the majority of whom were in their late 30’s to early 40’s. Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to develop a rich and multi-layered account of participants’ experiences. Results: Four main themes emerged across participants’ accounts. These were: ‘Fear of the past and its impact on the future’, ‘Trying to do better’, ‘Parenting is hard but rewarding’ and ‘Connecting and disconnecting: the push and pull.’ Implications: The study highlights the importance of holding the complexity of care leavers’ experiences as parents in mind; acknowledging both their strengths and struggles. Participants’ sense-making of their parenting in relation to their pasts as well as their resources and the processes surrounding learning to parent, were discussed in light of the themes that arose and previous theoretical and research literature. Clinical implications and recommendations for future research are also discussed.