Mothering Identity Experiences: A Backwards Glance

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The Family Journal

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Aspects of human growth and development have been studied since the inception of psychology as a field of science. The impact of the quality of mothering on children has been highly researched. However, little attention has been paid in the professional literature to the experiences of mothers as their children move through developmental stages. The focus of this hermeneutic phenomenology study was to investigate how mothers’ experiences of their child's growth and development changed her perceptions of her identity and herself. Participants were eight women who had launched the oldest child from the home within the last 2 years. Extensive data analysis and triangulation procedures were conducted to develop themes. Universal themes experienced by all participants were categorized as internal (questioning, comparison, being purposeful, and feeling supported) and external (experiencing joy). Some participant experiences were influenced by incidental themes such as subsequent children, expectations versus reality, and spirituality. Participants’ experience of their mothering role was also impacted by the process of letting go through the developmental progression of their children. Clinical implications are discussed.