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What is ‘good timing’ in parenthood? Young mothers’ accounts of parenthood and its timing

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This article explores how young mothers negotiate the timing of parenthood in relation to Swedish family policy. Drawing on qualitative interviews with individuals who became parents at the ages of 17 to 23 in Sweden, the findings reveal that although the Swedish parental benefits system stipulates that parenthood should follow establishing oneself in the labour market, becoming a parent before getting a job is still counted as good timing by the young parents in this study. The findings suggest that guidelines and state policies do not work as incentives in the way policy-makers suggest, since certain groups develop their own logics as to how and when parenthood should be entered into. However, the study points out a risk for gendered trajectories as the parent’s decision regarding paid work and care for children appears to be in line with structures of gender and generations, and family negotiations tend to be asymmetrical.
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Keywords: age norms; gendered moralities; subjective timing; young parenthood

Affiliations: Gothenburg University, Gothenburg, Sweden

Appeared or available online: August 10, 2018

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