Date of Award

12-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Embargo Date

2-20-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Child and Family Studies

Advisor(s)

Jaipaul L. Roopnarine

Keywords

Caribbean, Conceptualizations, Guyana/Trinidad, Indo-Caribbean, Motherhood/Mothering, Practices

Subject Categories

International and Area Studies | Sociology

Comments

This qualitative study examines multiple facets of motherhood among thirty Indo-Caribbean immigrant mothers living in Queens and Schenectady, New York, in the United States. These women belong to a growing Indo-Caribbean population that immigrated over the last forty years to the U.S. Indo-Caribbean families share a unique historical and cultural footprint that combines experiences, traditions, and practices from three distinct locations: India, Caribbean nations, and the United States. Despite the complex socio-cultural tapestry of this group, currently, little information is available about this group, including a lack of research on motherhood. Using the tenets of Social Feminism Perspectives, Gender Identity, and the Cultural-Ecological Framework, Indo-Caribbean immigrant mothers were interviewed using open-ended questions concerning their conceptions and practices of motherhood and the socio-cultural values influencing their schemas about motherhood within the context of life in the U.S. The mothers' testimonials were analyzed using both NVivo 10 and the traditional high-lighter method. The analysis revealed that participants: (1) viewed motherhood as a life changing experience, a blessing, and a huge lifetime responsibility; (2) maintained a primary nurturing role modeled by their own mothers, but worked to avoid the struggles that they and their mothers experienced in order to provide for a better life for themselves and their children; (3) valued high expectations for their children's behavior including respect for authorities, good behavior, hard work, and academic excellence along with high levels of control and harsh discipline when these expectations were violated (although there was a tendency for discipline to be less extreme than what they had experienced as children); (4) maintained a strong value in educating their children about their religious and cultural heritage and sought out communities that would provide social support for these values. The findings provide a basis for understanding how factors within the family of origin and the socio-cultural environment of the participant's childhood and her new environments, in the U.S. shape her conceptions of motherhood and parenting practices.

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Open Access

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