Monday, 29 April 2013

'I felt so guilty': emotion and mothers’ experiences of caring for their young children

Guilty, frazzled, tired and upset. How does it feel to be a mother caring for her baby in the first days and weeks, and then months and years, of her baby’s life?

In the last decade, the policy context of health visiting practice has shifted the focus of health work with new parents from working with all families to working with those who it is felt are the most vulnerable.  This, however, poses a tricky dilemma as we try to understand what vulnerability is, and, how it is experienced by different parents.  

Caroline King, in a seminar on 15 May, as part of CRFR’s emotions series, will consider what the study of emotion can tell us about mothers’ experiences of caring for their children. She will explore the accounts of 20 mothers who took part in her PhD study.  She will also draw on her own experience as a mother and consider whether at times she was vulnerable after the birth of her children.  In doing so, she will consider the role of emotion and emotion work in both uncovering and covering the tracks of vulnerability.  Can vulnerability, she will ask, be experienced by any mother?   If so, what role do personal resources play, for example, a mother’s education or income, in how we frame, manage and categorise vulnerability?

In her analysis Caroline will consider the particular role of class in opening up and closing down what is recognised as vulnerability and the implications of this for mothers and their children.

An introduction to the topic of vulnerability in the contexts of mothering and health visiting practices can be found by viewing a short film made in collaboration with artist Rosie Gibson (previously CRFR artist in residence), and based on Caroline’s PhD findings,

This experimental piece considers issues around framing and managing vulnerability.  It draws on the narratives of mothers and health visitors to consider the most dominant ways in which vulnerability is couched through professional practice. In doing so, it aims to open up discussion about what it means to be vulnerable and the ways in which meaningful support can be provided.

To book a place at the seminar at CRFR in Edinburgh email Brenda Saetta. Places are funded and free to delegate but numbers are limited.

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