“Everyone My Age Doesn’t Know What It’s Like”: A Mixed-Method Study of Young Mothers and Social Support in Australia
Heidi Hoffmann, Rebecca E. Olson, Francisco Perales, and Janeen Baxter.
Young mothers often experience long-term social disadvantage. This research examines how young Australian mothers (i) compare to older mothers in levels of social support and personal resources, and (ii) perceive and experience the quality and type of social support available to them. Statistical analyses of survey data from The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (n=5,087) is undertaken to compare the circumstances of young mothers (15-24 years old at birth of their child) and all older mothers (25+ years at birth of their child). Young mothers generally reported higher levels of social support, but poorer family relationships, and fewer personal resources (such as education and home ownership). In-depth interviews with nine young mothers (16-25 years at birth) in Southeast Queensland provided additional insights into how young mothers construct their sense of identity and experiences of motherhood. Young mothers often had difficult childhoods and strained relationships with their parents, but many reconnected with their mothers after pregnancy and found them to be important sources of support. This research suggests that being a mother outside the typical age range (25-34 years old) is challenging for both young and older mothers, but in different ways. These results provide important insights for policies and services aimed at supporting mothers of all ages.
July 1, 2019