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Adolescent mother and child experiences in a parent-child music program



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Adolescent mothers are unique; they are both teenagers and parents. Some are students. Many have difficulty with these multiple roles. Secondary schools that support adolescent mothers by providing parenting classes and daycare present an ideal environment to introduce and investigate parent-child music programs. In the present study, the experiences of adolescent mothers and their children in a modified music program based on Kindermusik (2010) curriculum are explored. This research is part of a growing movement to work with youth from a perspective of their interests, assets and resilience. The guiding research question is: What are the experiences of adolescent mothers and their infants in a culturally responsive parent-child music program? I worked with a local parent-child music instructor to implement a program in a Saskatoon school, and received support from a Cree Elder and a Métis singer-songwriter to develop a cultural component of the program. Thirteen young women and their infants participated in the study; one adolescent mother was Aboriginal and five infants had paternal Aboriginal heritage. Other participant ethnicities mirrored the diversity in Saskatoon where much of the population is of multi-ethnic origin from British, German, French, and Ukrainian ancestry (Thraves, 2006). A case study of the eight-week music program was used, emphasizing experiential knowledge, continuous compilation of data, extended researcher observation, and the development of relationship and participant empowerment (Stake, 2010). Primary sources of data included participant-observations and focus group interviews. Secondary sources comprised individual interviews with the parent-child music instructor, an Elder, and school staff; short check-in interviews with most of the adolescent mothers; and video footage and photographs taken during the parent-child music program. The Listening Guide (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2003)—a feminist analysis consistent with the epistemology—was used to interpret the focus group interviews. Thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006) was utilized to elucidate the other sources of data. The qualitative findings provide an in-depth understanding of the experiences of adolescent mothers and their infants in a parent-child music program using practical interactions that model and reinforce parenting skills through welcoming, informal, positive and culturally responsive activities. Key findings are strengthened mother-infant connections, enhanced maternal wellbeing, and the development of children’s social skills. Limitations and recommendations for further research are discussed.



parent-child music program, adolescent motherhood, Aboriginal resilience, feminist epistemology, positive psychology



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Psychology and Special Education


Educational Psychology and Special Education


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