Date of Award

12-2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kevin Swartout

Abstract

Intergenerational trauma occurs when a family's unresolved trauma, such as childhood sexual abuse, is passed down to future generations. This secondary qualitative analysis of interviews with women who experienced childhood sexual abuse and then became teen mothers utilizes a social-ecological approach to understanding intergenerational trauma by focusing on the multileveled forces at work in these families. The interviews addressed the women's parenting styles, relationships with their children, self-care, and resources. A phenomenological analysis was conducted using a qualitative took kit referred to as Sort & Sift, Think & Shift. This approach utilizes an emergent design that allows the data to guide the analysis process. As such, the analysis yielded some unexpected results. Analysis revealed that the teen mothers based their parenting decisions on their experiences with their own mothers in childhood. Important factors identified include 1) emotional support, 2) physical presence, 3) listening and believing 4) protection, and 5) discipline. Additionally, the interplay between 1) family dynamics, 2) housing stability, and 3) increasing earning potential illustrate how the mother’s system of support influences their ability to thrive as teen moms. The findings have implications for policies aimed to support teen mothers with CSA history. The mothers’ unique circumstances and needs warrant housing and education assistance, as well as comprehensive parenting education.

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