Parents with troubled upbringings and their perception of childhood

Applying qualitative data from a 30‐year‐long follow‐up study, this article examines how 30 parents with troubled upbringings talk about and present their children through stories about parenthood. Two overall themes were identified: (a) the perception of childhood with the associated subcategories “being engaged in school” and “the value of eating rituals and leisure activities” and (b) having agency with the associated subcategories “being heard and put first” and “meeting the children’s needs.” The findings exemplify how these parents’ backgrounds build into current discursive understandings about parenthood and childhood and how conflicting emotions from their own childhood affect their present view of their children. Attention is paid to the idea of how these parents “invest” in discursive positions regarding their children. The findings apply to both theoretical and practical social work, addressing the need for an understanding of how parents with troubled childhoods understand and consequently interact with their children.


Mari Dalen Herland


Child & Family Social Work

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