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Fostering Relationships with and Ethical Representations of Pregnant and Parenting Teens Heidi L. Hallman Department of Curriculum and Teaching University.

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Presentation on theme: "Fostering Relationships with and Ethical Representations of Pregnant and Parenting Teens Heidi L. Hallman Department of Curriculum and Teaching University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Fostering Relationships with and Ethical Representations of Pregnant and Parenting Teens Heidi L. Hallman Department of Curriculum and Teaching University of Kansas

2 Jessis Poem Just Because Just because I had a baby Dont laugh and talk behind my back. Dont think I cant achieve. Dont try to please me with your make believe. Just because I had a baby Dont mean I have to give up my dreams. Doesnt mean for you to stop being a friend. 2

3 Jessis poem (cont.) Just because I had a baby Doesnt give you a right to throw me on with the statistics. Just because I had a baby Doesnt mean Im a ho Dont act like I dont know. Just because I had a baby Means I need you more than ever. By Jessi Martin 3

4 The teen mother as at-risk The at-risk student is positioned against the normal adolescent (Lesko, 2001). The pregnant teen has not always been a defining category for adolescents. Before the 1970 s attention was focused on unwed mothers of all ages. 4

5 Who is the pregnant and parenting teen? Studies (Luttrell, 2003; Pillow, 2004; Zachry, 2005) challenge the depiction of the pregnant teen as deviant or abnormal Several researchers (e.g., Brindis, 1993; Luker, 1996) have documented results that appear contradictory to the early pregnancy/ lack of success model so frequently assumed by the American public. 5

6 Questions to consider Does representing the pregnant/ parenting teen as a unit of analysis undermine researchers efforts to ethically highlight the stories of these teens? In representing the stories of pregnant and parenting teens, are researchers aiding in the construction of some stories as fit and others asunfit? 6

7 Ethnographic Methods in a Postmodern Landscape The state of ethnography questions both the researcher and the researched Ethnographers build a representation of their site, in part, through depicting the stories of their participants Pillows (2004) research depicting teen mothers eventually rejected a use of participants stories, claiming that these stories might contribute to pregnant and parenting teens beingoverrepresented and hypervisible (p. 8). 7

8 The work of critical ethnographers in depicting pregnant and parenting teens Kelly (2000), Luttrell (2003), Hallman (2009) focus on narratives of participants as a way to highlight participants agency Focus on participants self-representation 8

9 Agency and Identity through participants narratives Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain (1998) state that identities, the imaginings of self in worlds of action, [are]…lived in and through activity and so must be conceptualized as they develop in social practice (p. 5). Though societal discourses about teen mothers certainly have influence on others perceptions of the teen mother, it is important to recognize the agency that teen mothers possess. 9

10 Agency and Identity through participants narratives Kelly (2000) highlights the relationship that participants have with the discourses in which they operate. Kelly describes this relationship through the dichotomous construct of teen mothers as victims/ teen mothers as free agents. Emphasis on a critical stance. 10

11 The relationship between participants agency and the discourses in which they operate 11 Teen mothers as free agents Teen mothers as victims The extra-local context of the research site

12 Our own collusion in ethnographic representation 12 We are tied into the relationship betweenresearcher and researched As Watson (2006) notes, participants stories often reject discourse determinism, and instead seek to draw on the resources available to construct an identity.

13 Postmodern Ethnography 13 A deep understanding of the lives of ones participants and a contextualized reproduction of the stories told by the participants --Norman Denzin

14 Jessis poem 14 Jessis poem references several discourses of teen motherhood, and one could view these discourses as confining Jessis agency Jessis understanding of herself as a teen mom involves talking back to these discourses as well as synthesizing them.

15 Jessis poem 15 Jessis poem, Just Because, becomes a metaphor for teen mothers work within the dialectic of free agent/ victim The divide between the extremes of free agent andvictim articulates the prevalence of discourse determinism in the way that teen mothers are frequently characterized

16 LaShaundras letters to her daughter Letter 1 16 Dear Kamille, Its your mom, LaShaundra. Right now I am finishing high school at Eastview and Im 18 years old. Ill be graduating soon and am glad I made it this far. I did this mostly for you so you would have a mom who made something of her life. Love, Mom

17 Letter 2 17 Dear Kamille, Man, do I hate to read! But I like to write so I will write to you. Ive been thinking about how big you have gotten already and keep wondering what youll be when you grow up. Dont be a teen mom like me because it is hard. People always think that youre not going to make it. But well make it. Maybe when you grow up youll be a teacher like Bob. Love, Mom

18 Letter 3 18 Dear Kamille, Im going to write to you today about my situation with your daddy. This is hard for me but he has been calling me lately. I am wondering if we are going to get back together. Maybe he is willing to change and take responsibility. I always tell people that being a teen mom makes you take responsibility. Love, Mom

19 Letter 4 19 Dear Kamille, I read a good book called The First Part Last. It is about a teen dad. I have never seen a book about a teen dad before. I thought that was pretty cool. Your dad is still calling me but were not together. I thought that since Im finishing high school, I should make a plan for my future. So here it is: get good grades graduate from high school go to college and get good grades apply for a job as a physician assistant

20 Letter 4 (cont.) 20 Bob asked me to think about what obstacles I might encounter. I told him that I have you, so Ill have to take care of you or have someone watch you while Im in school. But if things dont work out I know for sure that Im going to graduate from high school. Love, Mom

21 Working within the dialectic 21 Dierdre Kellys (2000) articulation of the dominant discourses of teen motherhood: wrong-girl frame/ wrong family frame wrong-society frame/ stigma-is-wrong frame

22 Working within the dialectic 22 Through awareness of a dialectical relationship between participants agentive selves and the discourses in which they operate, education researchers can account for the back-and-forth between self and discourse.

23 Working within the dialectic 23 It is easy to misconstrue the discourse as having an overriding power to determine the values and interpretations of womens appearances in local settings…but women are active, skilled, make choices, consider, are not fooled or foolish. Within discourse there is play and interplay. Dorothy Smith, 1990, p. 202

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