Mothers

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Mothers in the AIFS library catalogue

The intergenerational transmission of family violence : mothers' perceptions of children's experiences and use of violence in the home.

Meyer S, Reeves E and Fitz-Gibbon K
Child and Family Social Work 17 Feb 2021: Advance online publication
This article looks at the complex nature of adolescent family violence, focusing on the intergenerational transmission of violence and how mothers can be victimised by both their partners and later by their affected children. First, the article discusses the literature on the impact of intimate partner violence on children, the intergenerational transmission of domestic violence, the gendered nature of adolescent family violence, and mothers' help seeking behaviours. It then presents findings from a research study in Queensland, involving interviews with 9 mothers affected by both partner violence and violence from a child, identified as part of a broader study. The mothers' discussed the violence witnessed by their children, how children could be used to target the mothers, the adverse impacts on children's behaviour, and how the mothers make sense of children's violence and their own experiences of dual victimisation.

Adolescent family violence : findings from a group-based analysis.

Boxall H and Sabol B
Journal of Family Violence 22 Jan 2021: Advance online publication
This article adds to what is known about adolescent family violence, with a focus on differences by targeted victim. It compares offender characteristics and violence severity and frequency depending on whether the offending was directed against a mother, father, younger sibling, older sibling, or other family member. Data was taken from one cohort of offenders: 2,717 young people reported to police in Victoria in 2014 for family violence offences. The findings highlight distinct differences among the groups: when mothers were the victims, the violence was often frequent and ongoing and the mothers were also most likely to report being afraid of the offender. When 'other' family members were the victims, the violence often occurred in various contexts and with other offending.

Shifting inequalities? Parents' sleep, anxiety, and calm during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and the United States.

Ruppanner L, Tan X, Scarborough W, Landivar L and Collins C
Men and Masculinities 2 Feb 2021: Advance online publication
There has been speculation on whether the COVID-19 pandemic will promote gender equality, with the high rates of working from home leading to more men taking on housework and parenting. The article looks into this further, with a brief analysis of parent surveys from Australia and the United States. Surveys were conducted with 1,375 parents in May and September 2020, regarding changes to employment, working hours, housework, childcare, anxiety, restless sleep, and calmness. As expected, both mothers and fathers experienced significant changes in their job, housework, and childcare activities; however, the health impacts varied by gender and nationality. The findings suggest that COVID-19 has eroded traditional gender roles in Australia but reinforced them in the United States. Mothers in both countries picked up more housework and childcare during the pandemic. However, American fathers only helped out more in May, then pulled back to concentrate on work when the labour market began to recover in September. Australian fathers continued to spend more time on housework and childcare, but at the same cost women have suffered in trying to reconcile their work and family commitments: a rise in sleeplessness and anxiety.

Making paid work pay for families with children: addressing workforce participation disincentives.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia
Perth, W.A. : Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, 2021.
This paper looks at how women in Western Australia can be supported to re-enter the workforce after having children. It highlights the economic benefits of increasing women's labour force participation, reviews the barriers to participation, and presents proposals on how these barriers can be addressed. One of the key drivers of the problem is childcare, and a key proposal of this paper is subsidising kindy programs in childcare centres, as is seen in other states and territories of Australia. Data shows that women with young children in Western Australia are more likely to work fewer hours than women elsewhere, and that their young children are more likely to attend more than provider of care, as parents try to juggle childcare services. Other recommendations include changes to the tax and transfer system, a more responsive early childhood education and care system, and increasing fathers' uptake of parental leave and flexible work.

Nurse home visiting and maternal mental health : 3-year follow-up of a randomized trial.

Goldfeld S, Bryson H, Mensah F, Gold L, Orsini F, Perlen S, Price A, Hiscock H, Grobler A, Dakin P, Bruce T, Harris D and Kemp L
Pediatrics 20 Jan 2021: Advance online publication
This article investigates whether the right@home nurse home visiting program for disadvantaged mothers also has a positive effect on mental health. The program is offered to pregnant women experiencing adversity, and is available til the child is two years of age. The trial of the program began in 2013 in Victoria and Tasmania, with 722 women including a control group. This article looks at mothers' outcomes one year after completing the program - that is, with the child now aged 3 years of age. The study found that right@home participants reported better mental health well after the program ended, including lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress and higher levels of wellbeing.

Moms' time - married or not

Hamermesh D
Cambridge, Mass. : National Bureau of Economic Research, 2021.
"Using time-diary data from the U.S. and six wealthy European countries, I demonstrate that non-partnered mothers spend slightly less time performing childcare, but much less time in other household activities than partnered mothers. Unpartnered mothers' total work time - paid work and household production - is slightly less than partnered women's. In the U.S. but not elsewhere they watch more television and engage in fewer other leisure activities. These differences are independent of any differences in age, race/ethnicity, ages and numbers of children, and household incomes. Non-partnered mothers feel slightly more pressured for time and much less satisfied with their lives. Analyses using the NLSY79 show that mothers whose partners left the home in the past two years became more depressed than those whose marriages remained intact. Coupled with evidence that husbands spend substantial time in childcare and with their children, the results suggest that children of non-partnered mothers receive much less parental care - perhaps 40 percent less - than other children; and most of what they receive is from mothers who are less satisfied with their lives."--Author abstract.

Children's language abilities at age 10 and exposure to intimate partner violence in early childhood : results of an Australian prospective pregnancy cohort study.

Conway L, Cook F, Cahir P, Brown S, Reilly S, Gartland D, Mensah F and Giallo R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 111 Jan 2021: Article 104794
This article adds to what is known about the impact of mothers' mental health and victimisation on children's development, focusing on children's language skills at 10 years of age. Data is taken for 615 mothers and their first-born child in a pregnancy cohort study in Melbourne, Victoria. The study found that children whose mothers experienced intimate partner violence during the child's first four years had poorer language skills, including poorer abilities in receptive vocabulary, general language, and pragmatic language skills. Maternal depressive symptoms played some role, and was associated with poorer general language.

Child sexual abuse and pregnancy : a systematic review of the literature.

Brunton R and Dryer R
Child Abuse and Neglect v. 111 Jan 2021: Article 104802
Child sexual abuse is associated with many poor outcomes later in adulthood - this article looks at the impact on women during pregnancy and childbirth. It presents the findings of a systematic review of literature from over the last fifty years. Findings vary on the prevalence of a history of child sexual abuse among pregnant women, with studies ranging from 2.63% to 37.25%. However, these women experience greater health complaints, PTSD symptoms, anxiety, sleep problems, fear of childbirth, and difficulties with delivery. They also had higher rates of substance use and a higher risk of re-victimisation. Overall, these women have a greater risk of poor experiences of pregnancy and childbirth than women without a history of child sexual abuse.

The motherload : predicting experiences of work-interfering-with-family guilt in working mothers.

Maclean E, Andrew B and Eivers A
Journal of Child and Family Studies v. 30 o. 1 Jan 2021: 169-191
Many working women experience a sense of guilt when their work interferes with their ability to be a good parent. This article adds to what is known about the factors that cause or mediate this experience of guilt. It draws on a survey of 1,375 women with school-aged children, who were engaged in work or study for at least 15 hours per week. The survey asked participants about guilt over work interfering with family, work-family conflict, parenting self-efficacy, perceived social norms regarding maternal employment, and the degree to which they felt they deviated from an 'ideal' mother. The findings indicated that women who experienced high work-family conflict and felt they deviated significantly from being an ideal mother reported higher levels of guilt. On the other hand, a high sense of parenting self-efficacy and strong peer norms in favour of maternal employment were associated with less guilt.

Teenage mother's health across different life stages

Kalb G and Vu H
Indooroopilly, Qld. : Life Course Centre, Institute for Social Science Research, University of Queensland, 2021.
This paper adds to what is known about the poor lifetime outcomes often experienced by teenage mothers. It looks at health outcomes and what factors play a role in the increased risk of worse physical health, bodily pain, vitality, mental health, emotional functioning, social functioning, and emotional problems over a 15 year period. Data is taken from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, comparing women who had had a child before the age of 20 with women who had either had a child after that age or who had had no children. The findings indicate that teenage motherhood is negatively associated with health and that this impact worsens in later life. The findings suggest that these women were already at risk of disadvantage before becoming a mother, and that family, social support, education and economic factors partly explain the poor mental health outcomes, though not the physical health outcomes. In particular, better mental health outcomes for teenage mothers are associated with social support, a stable and positive partner relationship, and good economic outcomes.

Teen parents

University of Tasmania. Peter Underwood Centre for Educational Attainment
Hobart, Tas. : Peter Underwood Centre, 2020.
This paper highlights the issues facing pregnant or parenting teens in Tasmania. It presents statistics and survey findings on: prevalence; the number of births by girls and women age 19 or under in Australia 2008-2018; teen parent aspirations for themselves and their child; barriers to success; and how schools can support these teenagers to remain in education. Though the teenage birth rate almost halved between 2008-2018, there are still thousands of teenage women giving birth in Australia each year, with particularly high rates in Tasmania.

Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) Trial: independent evaluation - final report

Bakhtiar A, Te Riele K and Sutton G
Hobart : University of Tasmania, Peter Underwood Centre, 2020.
Supporting Expecting and Parenting Teens (SEPT) is a pilot mentorship program for teenage parents. Under the program, mentors provide practical guidance and support, connect the young people to appropriate supports, and help them develop plans for their future. This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the program, which has been trialled for a two-year period in several sites across Australia. The evaluation examined what aspects were working well and what could be improved, and considered whether the program could be adapted for other young people at risk of experiencing long-term disadvantage or welfare dependency. It found that the program design promotes participation and retention in the program, and helps provide a realistic pathway plan to education or employment.

National Youth in Transition Database: report to Congress

United States. Administration for Children and Families
Washington, D.C. : Administration for Children and Families, 2020
This report provides information on the experiences and outcomes of young people leaving care in the United States, with a particular focus on comparing young people who exited before 17 years of age with those who were still in care at 19 and 21. Data is taken from the National Youth in Transition Database survey, for the second cohort who were aged 17 in 2014 and surveyed again in 2016 and 2018. The survey is a government requirement, and looks at the reasons for entry into foster care, length of stay, number of placement settings, case goal, discharge reasons, differences between states, and the placement and individual characteristics associated with poor outcomes. The survey shows that 19 and 21 year-olds who were in foster care fared better overall and reported fewer challenging outcomes than their counterparts who had exited care earlier, as well as a lower likelihood of homelessness or incarceration. Having a trusted adult in their lives also played a role. The findings underscore the importance of providing supports to youth who may be particularly vulnerable to challenging outcomes as well as the protective role of foster for many young people.

Coercive control during pregnancy, birthing and postpartum : women's experiences and perspectives on health practitioners' responses.

Buchanan F and Humphreys C
Journal of Family Violence 21 May 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores women's experiences of coercive control during pregnancy, birth, and in the postnatal period. In particular, it looks at the how the responses of health practitioners affected the women. Interviews were conducted with 16 women. Topics include reproductive coercion and coercive control of ante-natal care and birthing, as well as isolation, cultural expectations, and partner self-obsession and grandstanding. The findings highlight issues for health practitioners, with their responses often leading the women either to a further sense of isolation or to recognition and help seeking.

Spending on children across four countries : variation in the role of income and women's labor force participation.

Kornrich S, Ruppanner L and Lappegard T
Social Politics v. 27 no. 3 Fall 2020: 562-587
This article compares parents' expenditure on children in four countries: Australia, Spain, Norway, and the United States. Using expenditure data, it looks at the association between household income, mothers' labor force participation, and spending on children. The findings indicate that public provisions reduce inequalities in spending, with strong associations in the United States between income, female labor force participation, and spending and only smaller associations in in Norway.

Moms' time - married or not

Hamermesh D
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
Though previous research has looked at mothers' partner status, time allocation and quality of life, none has examined all three issues together. This new study unites these issues, drawing on longitudinal data from America and with comparisons with Europe. It explores such topics as how differences in the allocation of time by marital status alter mothers' happiness, how mothers' use of time affects their feelings of time being scarce, how these feelings relate to the presence or absence of a partner in the household, and the parenting children receive. The findings show that non-partnered mothers spend slightly less time performing childcare, but much less time in other household activities than partnered mothers. Unpartnered mothers' total work time - paid work and household production - is slightly less than partnered women's. In America but not elsewhere they watch more television and engage in fewer other leisure activities. These differences are independent of any differences in age, race/ethnicity, ages and numbers of children, and household incomes. Non-partnered mothers feel slightly more pressured for time and much less satisfied with their lives. Mothers whose partners left the home in the past two years became more depressed than those whose marriages remained intact. Coupled with evidence that husbands spend substantial time in childcare and with their children, the results suggest that children of non-partnered mothers receive much less parental care - perhaps 40% less - than other children; and most of what they receive is from mothers who are less satisfied with their lives.

How Australian welfare reforms shape low-income single mothers' food provisioning practices and their children's nutritional health.

Jovanovski N and Cook K
Critical Public Health v. 30 no. 3 2020: 340-351
This article looks at the impact of recent welfare-to-work reforms on single mothers' ability to feed their families. It draws on interviews with 30 low-income single mothers receiving the Parenting Payment Single pension, the Disability Support Pension, or the Newstart Allowance for the unemployed. The participants discussed job seeker obligations, being transferred to different payment types with different rates and requirements, planning meals on a low budget, meeting children's nutritional needs, and coping strategies like going hungry themselves. The findings highlight the impact of stringent welfare requirements and policies on these women's time and budgets and the emotional and nutritional toll of trying to provide food for children at the same time.

Psychosocial factors associated with trajectories of maternal psychological distress over a 10-year period from the first year postpartum: an Australian population-based study.

Wajid A, Kingston D, Bright K, Kashif Mughal M, Charrois E and Giallo R
Journal of Affective Disorders v. 263 Feb 2020: 31-38
Maternal mental health problems can extend for years for some women - well beyond the antenatal period. This article investigates the patterns and early warnings signs for persistent maternal mental health problems. Data is taken for mothers participating in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children, from child infancy to ten years of age. The study identified five distinct trajectories, associated with social and economic disadvantage and psychosocial stress. The strongest predictors were a history of depression and 3 or more stressful life events in the past year.

Final report of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes

Ireland. Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes, Ireland. Dept. of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Dublin, Ireland : Dept. of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, 2021
The Irish Government established the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes in 2015 to provide a full account of what happened to vulnerable women and children in Mother and Baby Homes during the period 1922 to 1998. This report presents the Commission's findings and recommendations. The story of mother and baby homes in Ireland is complex and its nuances cannot easily be captured in a summary. The Homes provided free refuge for unmarried pregnant women who were rejected by their families and the fathers. Most were run by religious organisations, religious salvation of mothers and children was central to their mission. However, the women experienced harsh treatment and high rates of infant mortality were found: many infants were also adopted out overseas. Recommendations are made relating to information access, adoption tracing, infant burials, memorialisation, and redress.

COVID-19 school closures and parental labor supply in the United States

Amuedo-Dorantes C
Bonn, Germany : IZA, 2020.
This paper examines how school closures following the breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States have impacted parental labor supply. It analyses daily information on school closures at the school-district level and data on employment and socio-demographic characteristics from the Current Population Survey from January 2019 through May 2020. The findings indicate significant reductions in the weekly work hours by both mothers and fathers of young school-age children in two-partnered households when face-to-face or physical school was placed on hold. The impacts are more noticeable among mothers, particularly if they were unable to telework, were non-essential workers, or did not have an adult (partner or else) in the household.

Mothers' understandings of 'home' after relationship separation and divorce.

Campo M, Fehlberg B, Natalier K and Smyth B
Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law 22 Oct 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores mothers' understandings of 'home' after relationship separation. It draws on interviews with 35 separated mothers, regarding how they defined a home and the barriers and facilitators they faced when creating a home after separation. The study found that these mothers saw 'home' as a complex, multidimensional and largely relational concept, with the physical space providing the context for safety and relationships with family and community. Over half of the mothers had experienced or were still experiencing family violence, affecting their value of a home and their ability to create one.

Mothering - a mode of protecting rather than parenting in the aftermath of post separation family violence in Australia.

Francia L, Millear P and Sharman R
Children Australia v. 45 no. 2 Jun 2020: 109-116
This article explores mothers' lived experiences of mothering in the context of post separation family violence and the family law system. Interviews were conducted with 36 separated women, who had experienced co-parenting conflict and family violence years after separation. The women were asked about their post separation experiences, post separation care arrangements, use of family court and legal service, contact with child protection services, and their capacity to nurture and care for a child following separation. The interviews revealed two key themes, highlighting adopting a mode of mothering as protecting rather than parenting, and the long-term impact and ongoing nature of family violence.

Inequality in Australia 2020. Part 2, Who is affected and why

Davidson P
Strawberry Hills, NSW : Australian Council of Social Service with the University of New South Wales, 2020.
This report series monitors the level, nature, and trends in poverty and inequality in Australia. This report expands on the previous overview report to provide a more detailed look at the groups of people most affected by income and wealth inequality and the causal factors involved. Data is taken for 2017/18 - the latest available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics - and can serve as a baseline to assess the impacts of the more recent bushfire disaster and COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows that unequal distribution of earnings - especially access to full-time employment - is the main driver of income inequality. Households with female main earners - especially those with dependent children - have much lower incomes than those with male main earners, and couples are better off financially than singles and sole parent families.

Paying more or accepting less child support : parental compromises in CSA Private Collect.

Vnuk M, Smyth B and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 243-263
The previous article in this series investigated why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. Data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008, found that that private arrangements are widespread, but also raised concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children. This follow-up article examined these reasons in more detail, with a sample of 107 of the parents. The analysis found evidence of both cooperation and financial coercion, and highlights the need for further research into the nature of private arrangements struck as a result of intimidation or pressure.

Bargaining in the shadow of the Child Support Agency? : cooperative versus coercive private arrangements.

Smyth B, Vnuk M and Aleema P
Australian Journal of Family Law v. 33 no. 3 Oct 2020: 226-242
This is the second of three articles on 'private' child support arrangements in Australia. It investigates why some non-resident fathers pay more than their 'official' child support obligation, and why some resident mothers accept less than they entitled to. It analyses data for 733 parents registered with the Child Support Agency, as part of a broader study conducted in 2008. The data shows that one quarter of parents either paid more or accepted less child support than was due, and the majority of these cases were private arrangements where the Child Support Agency was not responsible for collecting payments. The findings suggest that private arrangements are widespread, with motivations including the desire to encourage parent-child contact, stop fights over parenting arrangements, and improve the perceived fairness of payments. The findings also raise concerns about the role of coercion in private arrangements, with suggestions that some resident mothers are being pressured to take less child support and that some nonresident fathers are paying extra in order to have regular contact with their children.

Who cares? : the conundrum for gender equality in legal practice.

Thornton M
University of New South Wales Law Journal v. 43 no. 4 Nov 2020: 1473-1493
Although women comprise the majority of practitioners in legal practice in Australia, the question of who cares remains an enduring challenge for gender equality. Against the backdrop of social and policy changes resulting from the feminisation of labour, this article pays particular attention to the role of flexible work in legal practice. It draws on two empirical projects - one involving corporate law firms and the other involving NewLaw firms. As the results were somewhat ambivalent, the article then turns to the feasibility of shared parenting regimes by drawing on studies from Scandinavia. These studies show that the unencumbered worker ideal is nevertheless resistant to sustained absences from work even though the norms of fatherhood are changing. The competing narratives of the 'new father' and the unencumbered worker who devotes himself to work therefore produce a paradox that underscores the ongoing elusiveness of gender equality in legal practice.

Births, Australia 2019

Australian Bureau of Statistics
Canberra, ACT : Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020.
This website presents statistics on births and fertility trends in Australia. Information is provided for 2019 on the total fertility rate, registered births, maternal age, multiple births, Indigenous parents, births in each state and territory, and births mapped against capital city areas. Information is taken from registered births and projections based on 2016 Census data. There were 305,832 registered births in 2019, down 3% from 2018. Of the children born, 51.5% were male and 64.4% were to married parents. The total fertility rate was 1.66 births per woman, which has been below replacement since 1976.

Systematic review : effects of sustained nurse home visiting programs for disadvantaged mothers and children.

Molloy C, Beatson R, Harrop C, Perini N and Goldfeld S
Journal of Advanced Nursing 10 Oct 2020: Advance online publication
This article presents a review of the evidence on the benefits and impacts of sustained nurse home visiting programs. It summarises the findings of a systematic review of home visiting programs that targeted disadvantaged mothers, commenced during pregnancy or prior to the child's first birthday, had an intended duration of at least 12 months from the time of enrolment, and were delivered by nurses or midwives. The study found that these programs are of benefit to disadvantaged families, though effects vary and further research is needed.

Care leavers, ambiguous loss and early parenting : explaining high rates of pregnancy and parenting amongst young people transitioning from out-of-home care.

Purtell J, Mendes P and Saunders B
Children Australia 27 Nov 2020: Advance online publication
This article explores the high prevalence of pregnancy among care leavers. It discusses the literature on the association between the transition from care and early parenting, with reference to Boss's 2010 Ambiguous Loss theory, which contends that young people with experiences of child protection involvement and placement in out-of-home care may experience enduring feelings of loss associated with removal from their family, as well as from any placement instability. Sections in the article include: Prevalence of care leaver early parenting; Care leavers, removal from family and Ambiguous Loss theory; Reconnecting with family: choice or necessity?; Disenfranchised loss and grief; Relationships with family and social and community connections; The social exclusion of bureaucratic care; Pathways to care leavers' early parenting; The 'emotional void': wanted pregnancies and school as a preventative factor; Protective interventions: surveillance bias or support?; Poverty and protective interventions; Child removal and repeat pregnancies; Parenting support and 'turning lives around'; Extended care; Blaming the victim: exploitation and coercion; and Sex education and pregnancy prevention.

Antenatal care use and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers and their babies, 2016-2017

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2020.
This report explores the factors associated with antenatal care use by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, and how these may relate to their babies' outcomes. A particular focus is how these vary across regions. Data is taken from the National Perinatal Data Collection for the 2-year period 2016-2017. The analysis found that use of antenatal care in the first trimester was associated with positive birth outcomes, while accessing care later in the pregnancy was associated with increased odds of low birthweight and neonatal intensive care, and no use of antenatal care was associated with increased odds of pre-term birth and perinatal death. The use of antenatal care varies across regions; though about 63% of Indigenous mothers attended antenatal care in the first trimester - an increase from 55% in 2014-2015 - the proportion of mothers attending care ranged from 40% to 84% by region.
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