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Supporting mothers: issues in a Community Mothers Programme

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This article describes a community support programme which implicitly challenges the assumption that the existence of a partner and local kin obviates the need to support women when they come home from hospital with a new baby. Implicit in the programme is the idea that support by mothers, of mothers, validates the activity of child care and is one way of facilitating the child's development. This programme was successful in terms of its perceived impact on both the providers and the recipients' ability to parent, in terms of providing training and support for providers, and in terms of strengthening links within the community and between the providers and the statutory and voluntary sectors. However, since the very model of care was a 'paid volunteering' one which perpetuated women's economic dependency it is a moot point whether it also perpetuated the devaluing of women's work. The subsequent mainstreaming of the programme and its inclusion of teenage lone mothers, who are likely to be co-parenting with their own mothers, raises still further questions about the complex and ambiguous nature of support for women.

En este artículo se describe un programa de apoyo comunitario que, de manera implícita, pone en tela de juicio la creencia de que al tener una pareja o algun familiar muy cercano, las mujeres ya no necesitan ayuda cuando vuelven a casa después de tener un bebé. Implícita en el programa se encuentra la idea de que, el apoyo por parte de las madres de las madres da valor a la actividad del cuidado de niños y es a la vez una manera de facilitar el desarrollo de la niñez. Este programa tuvo mucho éxito en cuanto al impacto percibido tanto por aquellas que proporcionaban y recibían el apoyo de madres, en cuanto proporcionaban entrenamiento y apoyo para las proveedores debido al fortalecimiento de lazos con la comunidad, y entre las proveedoras y los sectores voluntarios y estatales. Sin embargo ya que este programa era un voluntariado pagado, el cual perpetúa la dependencia económica de la mujer, cabe preguntarse si también perpetúa la devalorización del trabajo de la mujer. La subsecuente parte principal del programa y la incorporación de madres adolescentes solas, quienes obtienen la ayuda de sus propias madres en el cuidado del bebé, provoca aun más interrogantes con respecto a la compleja y ambigua naturaleza de la ayuda a mujeres.
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Keywords: BIRTH; CHILDREN; COMMUNITY; INTERVENTION; MOTHERING; MOTHERS; PAID; SUPPORT; VOLUNTEERING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: College of Humanities, University of Limerick, Ireland

Publication date: April 1, 2001

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