Responsible Mothering in Limpopo, South Africa: Perspectives of Adolescents
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Mothering is recognized as important in shaping adolescent children’s identity cross-culturally, but how people understand and practice mothering varies between social contexts. In postapartheid South Africa, the institution of the family is undergoing changes that affect mothering. This study aimed to explore how 22 adolescents in the Mankweng area in the impoverished Limpopo Province understand mothering. Through focus group discussions, diaries, photographs and interviews, we explored adolescents’ experiences of being mothered and the adolescent women’s future aspirations about becoming a mother. Interpretative phenomenological analysis supported the analysis, and we identified three main themes: responsible mothering; trusting relationships; and aspirations about responsible mothering. Responsible mothering involved being present, providing and guiding. Trusting relationships meant that the mother was the primary confidant of and a role model for their future lives. The aspirations about future mothering emphasized values related to gender equality and represented a break with their own experiences of family life.