purpose. To uncover what adolescent mothers view as their childhood struggles, their transition to the role of motherhood following a childhood of abuse/neglect, and their important relationships after they became parents.
design. Qualitative, phenomenological.
setting. Community-based parenting program for first-time mothers at risk for abusing or neglecting their children.
participants. Seven first-time mothers, ages 13 to 20, who reported they had been abused and/or neglected as children. All had healthy newborns.
results. Five themes emerged from the data: impoverished past, disintegration of relationships, emotional distance, problem fixing, and reconnecting. Participants described a process of using the experience of pregnancy and parenting as a mechanism for growth. Becoming a parent provided an opportunity to receive support from family members and to build more positive relationships. They viewed the experience as a second chance for a successful and fulfilling life.