DATE: Saturday, February 9, 2013
TIME: 12:00 p.m
PLACE: Studio, Lambert Road campus
CANDIDATE: Rita Dumas
DISSERTATION TITLE: "The African-American Mother’s Perspective of Maternal-Child Separation for Professional or Educational Endeavors "
PROGRAM-TRACK/YEAR: PhD-B; 2007
CHAIR: Dr. Christine Peterson
READER: Dr. Wendy Phillips
EXTERNAL READER: Dr. Roxanne Jordan
Dumas, R. (2012). The African-American Mother’s Perspective of Maternal-Child Separation for Professional or Educational Endeavors (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2012)
Academic research has primarily focused on African-American mothers who are separated from their children due to extenuating circumstances such as domestic violence, drug abuse, and/or incarceration. Research findings centered in such a deficit model seldom give due respect and consideration to the diverse experiences of African-American women (Cauce, et. al., 1996). The present research is distinctive in its exploration of six African-American women who delegated the primary responsibility of their minor children to others for the purpose of professional or educational aspirations.
In order to explore the experience of the aforementioned population, the present research employed a descriptive phenomenological approach, undergirded by an Afrocentric womanist framework. The study specifically focused on (1) whether long-term mother-child separation lead to personal and/or professional growth or to psychological, emotional, and/or social problems (2) transition to the mother/nonmother status (3) mother’s interpretation of the maternal-child separation (4) impact on self-perception, and (5) impact on interpersonal relationships and the relationship with the African-American community.
In the current research, maternal-child separation is described as a challenging and emotional transition which involves a major concern about the impact on the quality of the mother-child attachment bond. In spite of the painful emotions associated with “being away from the child,” the separation is considered to be in the “best interest of the child.” The participants regard maternal-child separation as a “process of change,” which moves through a “crisis mode” to the interpretation of being a positive role model and rejection of the ‘bad mother” image.
Othermothering, community and spiritual support systems proved to be invaluable during maternal-child separation. The participants experience their positive endeavors as being “supported” by the larger African-American community. In contrast, the dominant society is viewed as retaining negative stereotypical images of mothers who are separated from their children, regardless of the reason. The current research findings are important in that expanded academic research, which is not based in a deficit paradigm on African-American women, will increase the probability of more sound clinical implications and interventions.
KEY WORDS: African-American mothers, Maternal absence, African-American women’s experiences, Interpretation of mother-child separation, Afrocentric Womanist framework, Phenomenological research Please note: All oral defense attendees must shuttle from the Best Western Hotel in Carpinteria.