Personal Decisions, Responsible Mothering: Un-picking Key Decisions Made by Young Mothers

Kyla Ellis-Sloan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Having a child as a teenager continues to raise questions regarding rationality, morality and maturity. Subsequent decisions made by young mothers are treated to similar questioning. This is, in part, a result of the growing popularity and application of neoliberalism outside of the political sphere. Ideals of personal responsibility, free choice and resilience have intensified the scrutiny and apportioning of blame to disadvantaged groups. Constraints on choice are disregarded. This chapter presents young mothers’ narratives around two key areas of decision-making: the decision to re-enter or delay entering education following childbirth and the decision to leave or remain in a relationship with the father of their child. Analysis demonstrates the continuing influence of gender as it underlies the constructions of ‘good’ mothering the women seek to live up to when making decisions. As such, the chapter challenges neoliberal conceptualizations of choice and stigmatizing representations of teenage mothers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe/Assembling the Pregnant and Parenting Teenager: Narratives from the field(s)
EditorsA. Kamp, M. McSharry
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781787075146
ISBN (Print)9781787071803
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


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