Re-storying identities: Young women's narratives of teenage parenthood and educational support
Hindin-Miller, Jennifer Margaret
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Teenage parenting is widely constructed in prevailing research and public discourse as a social problem, with poor outcomes for parent and child. Teenage parents are regarded as a drain on state funds, too young to parent well, and at high risk of social exclusion, both educationally and economically. This thesis proposes that teenage motherhood is a turning point in a young woman’s life and identity, which can be an opportunity, rather than a problem, if there is adequate support for the mother and her child. It considers the role of a New Zealand School for Teenage Parents in providing this support. Using qualitative narrative methodology, ten young women, six family members and nine other members of the School community were interviewed about their experiences of its culture and practices. Six of the young women were also interviewed to gather their life stories. Informed by the narrative understanding that we story our identities from the narrative possibilities available to us within the varied discursive contexts of our lives, this thesis draws on these life stories to explore how the young women storied the fashioning of their own identities as young women, as learners and as young parents. It presents their stories of childhood and family life, teenage-hood and schooling, pregnancy and parenthood, their experiences at the School for Teenage Parents, and their lives since leaving the School, in order to consider the role of the School in supporting the positive refashioning of their identities. This thesis draws on social constructionist and narrative theories to interpret the storied contexts of the young women’s lives, and the role these often constraining and difficult contexts played in the fashioning of their multiple identities. Māori culturally responsive pedagogical theories are also drawn on to interpret the culture of the School for Teenage Parents, and its attempts to provide a supportive and affirming family or whānau environment for its students, in order to offer them more positive narrative possibilities of self and identity as young women, as learners and as young parents.
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