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Perspectives on child-rearing in an urban community and the role of the health visitor

Swanwick, MA; (1996) Perspectives on child-rearing in an urban community and the role of the health visitor. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The study focused on the child-rearing practices of mothers from three different cultural groups in one urban community and on the role of health visitors as perceived by these mothers and the area health visitors. Universal factors affecting child-rearing practices were identified in the cross cultural literature on child-rearing. Three major determinants of practice emerged; economic survival, family cohesion and cultural transmission. These variables were confirmed in this study. Child rearing in the UK this century is revealed in the literature as the province of appointed 'experts'. These have emerged from such disciplines as religion, medicine, psychology and education. The current model for professional practice in child health care is empowerment of parents. The concepts of 'expert' and empowerment are both examined. Questionnaires established the professional and personal background of the area health visitors, their perceptions of how different client groups prioritised their child-rearing problems and sources of information seen as pertinent to their practice. In-depth interviews were carried out with ten of these health visitors. They focused on the role of health visitors and attitudes and beliefs in relation to client groups and their child-rearing problems. Focused interviews were also carried out in the same city with thirty five mothers with young children who were from Italian, Bangladeshi or indigenous white families. The topics of the interview were taken from the current popular child-rearing literature as being the child-rearing subjects of most interest to mothers. There were differences across the groups of mothers on preparedness for motherhood. Some mothers were seen as having unrealistic expectations of themselves and of their children, regarding some behaviour of their babies as problems. Others were more accepting of changes in their life brought by motherhood and saw their child's behaviour as being consistent with babyhood. Confidence and consistency in child-rearing practices appeared to be strongly related to family cohesion and the support given by the family. Child rearing practices were also seen to be influenced by the socio-economic status of the family, and in some instances, enduring cultural values. The health visitors perceived their roles as therapeutic, educational, empowering and as themselves as experts in child-health. These perceptions differed from those of the mothers. The concept of empowerment appeared not fully understood by the health visitors nor was it exercised equally for all mothers.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Perspectives on child-rearing in an urban community and the role of the health visitor
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129468
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