Shared parenting: mothers' experiences : "Experiences of mothering: how mothers view their roles in shared care arrangements for children following relationship separation"
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of women as parents following relationship separation. It aimed to investigate women's beliefs, attitudes, expectations and parenting styles, and how these may have been affected by relationship separation. Through purposive sampling using public advertising and professionals working in the field ten women agreed to participate who were currently sharing the care of their children following relationship separation. The discussions included information about twenty children and twelve fathers and covered issues such as what kind of cycle of shared parenting they are now in, their expectations about shared parenting and their attitudes regarding gendered roles. The study found a wide range of complex experiences, which were analysed in two ways. Firstly, themes arising from the questions were summarized. Each of the participants viewed their situations as sharing the care of their children despite varying proportions of time the children were in their care. They came to be in shared parenting situations in a variety of ways, which included by choice or imposition from legal intervention or from absence of fathers. These issues were further influenced by issues such as power difference, employment changes, loss, grief and guilt. The mothers expectations of shared parenting often involved them assuming care of the children or trying to act in the best interests of their children where possible. Women differed widely in their attitudes to gendered roles from traditional to collaborative notions of parenting both before and after separation. Some women found it difficult to have quality time with their children or away from their children if fathers were absent following separation. Secondly, participants were grouped according to the types of shared care arrangements following separation. Significant differences could be seen between those who had equal involvement of both parents following separation, minimal involvement of father and reduced involvement of mother. These groups were then discussed regarding how they view 'family' now, what works well, power differences between parents and implications for policy. This research has clearly identified that separating parents are not a homogenous group and contain a huge amount of diversity relating to how their relationships function, what their beliefs and attitudes towards parenting are, levels of power, control and violence and access to income. These issues all affect how post-separation parenting plays out. This study also highlights the need for care in assessing and re-assessing post-separation family situations and the conflicting understanding that can be gained from the differing views of the parties involved. Because of these points, universal one-size-fits-all approaches, whether legal or therapeutic, are unlikely to meet the needs and circumstances of all post-separation families.
Advisor: Keddell, Emily
Degree Name: Master of Social Work
Degree Discipline: Sociology, Gender and Social Work
Research Type: Thesis
Description: , 77,  leaves : ill., forms ; 30 cm. Notes: "October 2010". University of Otago department: Sociology, Gender and Social Work. Thesis (M.S.W. (Endorsed))--University of Otago, 2011. Includes bibliographical references.