Moth­ers en­cour­aged to share their par­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ences

Par­tic­i­pa­tion from ru­ral ar­eas key in pre­sent­ing a true picture of mother­hood in this prov­ince

The Compass - - Sports - BY DANETTE DOOLEY SPE­CIAL TO THE COMPASS danette@nl.rogers.com

Me­mo­rial Univer­sity re­searchers are look­ing for moth­ers to take part in a sur­vey about their par­ent­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.

Re­searchers with the depart­ment of psy­chol­ogy are look­ing to re­cruit moms of any mar­i­tal sta­tus or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Step­moms and adop­tive moms are also in­vited to take part in the sur­vey.

“For us mother­hood cov­ers the gamut of dif­fer­ent mother­hood ex­pe­ri­ences. If you’re not nec­es­sar­ily a bi­o­log­i­cal mom but you are still par­ent­ing chil­dren, we are still in­ter­ested in your point of view,” said Julie Gos­selin, di­rec­tor of the psy­chol­ogy depart­ment’s Fam­ily Re­silience Lab.

The project is the first time re­searchers have worked to cre­ate a pro­file of mother­hood in New­found­land and Labrador. The re­search fo­cuses on moth­ers of chil­dren 18 years and younger.

In cap­tur­ing these ma­ter­nal ex­pe­ri­ences, Gos­selin said, it’s im­por­tant to have par­tic­i­pa­tion from moth­ers in all ar­eas of the prov­ince – in­clud­ing ru­ral ar­eas.

Re­cruit­ment is go­ing well, Gos­selin said, with over half of the 500 par­tic­i­pants sought for the study al­ready iden­ti­fied.

“My big­gest con­cern is that we will have an over-rep­re­sen­ta­tion of peo­ple from the Avalon. So, I’m reach­ing out to more ru­ral ar­eas be­cause I re­ally want this data­base to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the whole prov­ince,” Gos­selin said.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the project re­quires moms to com­plete an on­line sur­vey which takes about 20 min­utes and cov­ers nu­mer­ous top­ics from de­mo­graphic in­for­ma­tion, par­ent-child re­la­tion­ships, co-par­ent­ing, health chal­lenges moth­ers are en­coun­ter­ing in rais­ing their chil­dren and their over­all well­be­ing.

“It’s a two-part sur­vey and, at the end of the sur­vey, moth­ers have the op­por­tu­nity to leave con­tact in­for­ma­tion if they want to par­tic­i­pate in a fol­lowup in­ter­view,” Gos­selin said.

Moth­ers are cen­tral to fam­ily life and com­mu­nity well-be­ing, Gos­selin said, how­ever, re­search rarely pays at­ten­tion to their ma­ter­nal ex­pe­ri­ences, rather re­lies on moth­ers to par­tic­i­pate in re­search that per­tains to their chil­dren.

“Moms are very im­por­tant to fam­ily health, to chil­dren’s de­vel­op­ment and to com­mu­nity health. And we don’t study moms di­rectly. We ask them ques­tions about their fam­ily and their chil­dren but we don’t ask them ques­tions about their own life and ex­pe­ri­ences,” Gos­selin said.

The sur­vey is an op­por­tu­nity for moms to be able to of­fer their opin­ions to the larger com­mu­nity on what their life as moth­ers is like and what is­sues they are fac­ing, she said.

The cur­rent study will fill the void that ex­ists in fam­i­ly­fo­cused re­search, Gos­selin said.

“We are look­ing at all kinds of dif­fer­ent vari­ables that are re­lated to fam­i­lies but also re­lated to re­gional dis­crep­an­cies and dif­fer­ences,” she said.

The re­searchers will be look­ing for spe­cific chal­lenges that New­found­land and Labrador moth­ers face re­lated to is­sues such as ac­cess to ser­vices in ru­ral ar­eas of the prov­ince as well as the im­pact mo­bile work has on fam­i­lies.

“We know mo­bile work af­fects fam­i­lies and we are look­ing at fer­til­ity is­sues be­cause there is only one fer­til­ity clinic in the prov­ince and that’s in St. John’s. It has lim­ited ser­vices and does not of­fer IVF (In Vetro Fer­til­iza­tion),” Gos­selin said.

Gos­selin said the in­for­ma­tion will be used to de­velop a large data­base that will be help­ful in other re­search projects.

“That’s why we want to get a board di­ver­sity of moth­ers par­tic­i­pat­ing so that the data­base can be use­ful for a num­ber of years... for a num­ber of dif­fer­ent projects which will hope­fully ben­e­fit moth­ers from across the prov­ince,” she said.

Gos­selin said the data­base can also be shared with de­ci­sion-mak­ers and stake­hold­ers across the prov­ince.

“We think this will be use­ful in­for­ma­tion for fam­ily pol­icy (de­ci­sions),” she said.

A link to the sur­vey can be found at http://dogs­body. psych.mun.ca/moth­er­hoodnl/

Moth­ers who would like to par­tic­i­pate in the sur­vey by phone can con­tact the project’s re­search co­or­di­na­tor Shannon Bedford at 1-709-864-7693. Bedford can also be con­tacted by email at slb154@mun.ca

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Pro­fes­sor Julie Gos­selin

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