A qualitative evaluation of adolescent mothering and maternal sensitivity




Grimaldo, Angela Hetherington

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One in ten adolescent females in the United States face pregnancy without the emotional, developmental, or parenting skills required for maternal sensitivity. Maternal sensitivity is a major characteristic responsible for secure infant attachment, the basis for the infant's future interactions with the world. Some adolescent mothers respond sensitively enough so their infants form secure attachments, but the children of less sensitive mothers remain at risk. This study focused on identifying factors in the adolescent mothering experience, then determining factors exhibited by and differing between highly sensitive and less sensitive mothers. A qualitative analysis of the Ainsworth Maternal Sensitivity Scores and audiotaped interviews of 10 adolescent mothers, using the constant comparative method, identified factors associated with adolescent mothering and differences within this population that contribute to higher and lower maternal sensitivity. Findings revealed the adolescent's positive perception, and increased understanding about her baby and motherhood role contributed to increased maternal sensitivity.



Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, Psychology