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Three stories about mother: narratives by women who have lived in care


Tuija Eronen, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, 33014 University of Tampere, Finland. E-mail:


Families and social work interventions in their lives are at the core of child welfare. Child welfare practices can shape children's and parents' family memories and narratives of different family relations. However, there is little social work research so far based on the personal narratives of people who have lived in care. The study data consist of the written life stories and biographical interviews of three women who have lived part of their childhood in children's homes. In their narratives, the most central family relation was their relationship to the mother. They used different narrative strategies in their stories while trying to manage both living their childhood in care and presenting their mother morally in the same story. The central moral and emotional stance in the narratives of the mother–daughter relationship was love. Through the analysis, three moral characters of the mother were constructed. The first told about an absent mother, the second a loved and loving mother and in the third, the mother's moral character was continuously negotiated and contested. Constructing a personal story and moral character of oneself and of one's mother can be truly risky in the context of a childhood in care.