A social constructionist examination of Traveller parenting values, attitudes and practices
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This research study addresses a significant issue within Irish society: the social construction of Traveller parenting values, attitudes and practices. This is a focused study where the overall aim is to examine how Traveller parenting values, attitudes and practices are socially constructed. It will then determine, from a Traveller perspective, how Traveller parenting can be most appropriately supported. The objectives of the study were to investigate Traveller views and experiences of parenting, and to determine Traveller perspectives on what factors, contribute towards effective parenting. The study also explores supports Traveller parents need in order to be able to parent effectively and presents a set of guidelines for best practice for organisations who provide parenting support. In the literature to date little focus has been placed on the parenting values, attitudes and practices from the perspective of Travellers as a distinct ethnic minority group within Irish society. There is also little research on supports required to address the parenting needs of this group. This research study employed a narrative inquiry approach to developing an understanding of how Traveller parenting values, attitudes and practices have been socially constructed. A sample of 19 Traveller mothers and fathers from across County Offaly took part in the research. As Travellers are considered a difficult to reach research community, a Peer Researcher assisted with gaining access to the research participants. The stories shared by individual Traveller parents were then analysed using Polkinghorne’s paradigmatic mode of analysis in order to produce paradigmatic typologies or categories. The research found that Traveller parents value their extended family network as a support to the parenting role, and this extended network is crucial in terms of parenting knowledge, skills and advice. Traveller parents face significant challenges as they try to maintain their cultural values and norms as they rear their children within a predominantly settled community. The research study concluded with a set of guidelines for service providers to consider when delivering parenting supports to Traveller families within the Irish context. In addition to this it would be advisable that any new model to support Traveller parents would need to be conscious of providing information in a manner that is accessible and mindful of literacy issues.
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