Äitiys, huostaanotto ja voimaantuminen
This study explores mothers’ experiences of their children’s custody. The empirical data consists of twelve interviews with mothers with a child custody experience. Seven interviews were conducted twice, in years 2004 and 2008. The purpose of the dissertation is three-fold: 1) to clarify the construction of motherhood before and after the custody; 2) to define what kind of support the mothers received after the children had been placed outside home; and 3) to identify promotive and hindering factors for the empowerment of these mothers. As for the method, this phenomenological study drew on qualitative content analysis. This dissertation sheds light on the reasons for child custody, as expressed in the mothers’ stories. The most often mentioned reasons for custody decisions were the mother’s alcohol abuse, family violence, mental problems, and the children’s asocial behaviour. The interviews revealed that immediately after the custody, the mothers were left without any specific support. However, later on they were supported in many ways, like through psychotherapy, peer support and other means of rehabilitation. The interviews showed that these mothers constructed their motherhood in a different way ’during’ and ’after’ the custody process. ’During’ the process, their motherhood was constructed as wounded in many ways, and it was expressed as the mothers’ inability (or limited ability) to take care of both themselves and their children. ’After’ the custody, their construction of motherhood embraced a wider range of definitions and attributes, such as wounded, lost, given up, friend, flourishing, completed, and empowered motherhood. The interviews revealed several factors for the empowerment of mothers. The mothers were empowered by their own children, peer groups, therapy and treatments as well as by new relationships. The experience of children’s custody made the mothers realise and actually face their reality. Some of them were drawn to rehabilitation, therapy, and peer group support, while some experienced gaining strength from religious faith. In particular, personal relationships, such as to one’s partner, family, or specifically to one’s own children, brought happiness to many mothers. There were also factors that reduced the mothers’ empowerment: e.g., violent and drug-dependent relationships of mothers, their suicide attempts, and their disappointments and distrust towards child welfare workers. Finally, the mothers were significantly disempowered by not dealing with their traumatic experiences. ...
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
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- Väitöskirjat 
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Solankallio-Vahteri, Tytti (Jyväskylän yliopisto, 2013)
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