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Mothering served as a narrative backbone that supported a meaningful, well developed life in some teenage mothers

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Q How do mothers who gave birth when they were <19 years of age describe and interpret their life experiences 12 years later?


Longitudinal qualitative study using interpretive phenomenology.


A large metropolitan area on the west coast of the US.


From an initial sample of 16 families, the sample followed up at 12 years consisted of 11 families (9 mothers, 3 partners of mothers, 9 maternal grandparents, and 6 of the mothers’ firstborn children). Mothers were 27–31 years of age. 10 mothers had given birth to additional children. 5 mothers were married, and 6 were single. 2 families were receiving public assistance. 1 mother lived in low income housing, and 3 mothers lived with their parents. Of the 7 remaining families, 4 owned their homes.


Families were interviewed at 4 different time periods (approximately every 4 y). At the fourth follow up, the investigator interviewed each mother (and partner in 3 cases) about changes in her life since the last follow up and difficult and rewarding parenting situations. 1 month later, parents were asked to describe additional difficult and rewarding parenting situations. Parents and the index child were then asked to …

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  • For correspondence: Dr L SmithBattle, School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, St Louis, MO, USA. smithli{at}

  • Source of funding: American Nurses Foundation.