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Supporting mothers: issues in a community mothers programme

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posted on 2010-07-19, 14:04 authored by Pat O'ConnorPat O'Connor
This article describes a community support programme which implicitly challenges the assumption that the existence of a partner and local kin obviates the need to support women when they come home from hospital with a new baby. Implicit in the programme is the idea that support by mothers, of mothers, validates the activity of child care and is one way of facilitating the child's development. This programme was successful in terms of its perceived impact on both the providers and the recipients' ability to parent, in terms of providing training and support for providers, and in terms of strengthening links within the community and between the providers and the statutory and voluntary sectors. However, since the very model of care was a 'paid volunteering' one which perpetuated women's economic dependency it is a moot point whether it also perpetuated the devaluing of women's work. The subsequent mainstreaming of the programme and its inclusion of teenage lone mothers, who are likely to be co-parenting with their own mothers, raises still further questions about the complex and ambiguous nature of support for women.

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