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Exploring the experiences of teenage mothers: occupational identity, disruption and alienation.

Exploring the experiences of teenage mothers: occupational identity, disruption and alienation.

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An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Criosa Houston. Originally submitted for Fundamentals of Occupational Therapy 4 - Occupational Science at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Dorothy Armstrong & Aideen Gallagher in the category of Medical Sciences
An essay for the 2011 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Criosa Houston. Originally submitted for Fundamentals of Occupational Therapy 4 - Occupational Science at National University of Ireland Galway, with lecturer Dorothy Armstrong & Aideen Gallagher in the category of Medical Sciences

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 29, 2012
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10/27/2013

 
Exploring the experiences of teenage mothers:Occupational identity, disruption and alienation
“Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just  small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis”
Martha Beck (2004)
INTRODUCTION
Pregnancy represents a major life change regardless of the age of the female inquestion (Horne et al, 2005). Becoming a mother leads to the alteration of one’s rolesand routines. Occupations which were once habitual and ordinary are replaced withactivities which are unfamiliar. Subsequently, one’s occupational identity undergoesmodification and occupational disruption and alienation may occur. The purpose of this essay is to explore the impact that teenage pregnancy is likely to have onoccupational functioning. Firstly, occupational identity and its formation will bediscussed. Time use for both typical teenagers and teenage parents will be contrasted.In addition, the occupational alienation and disruption that may be experienced bythese teenagers will be described. To begin, however, a brief background to teenage pregnancy in Ireland will be provided.Teenage pregnancy is defined as pregnancy occurring in females aged between 10 and19 years of age (Leishman & Moir, 2007). Public interest and media coverage of the
 
issue in Ireland has increased in recent years (Dempsey et al, 2001). Statistics propose that Ireland is ranked within the top ten countries in the developed world for  births in women aged 15-19 years of age (Fullerton, 2004, as cited by Lalor et al,2007, p.102). In 2005, teenage pregnancies accounted for 3.9% of total births thatyear, with a total of 2,427 females aged 15-19 giving birth (CSO, 2005, as cited byCrisis Pregnancy Agency, 2006, p.3).Teenage pregnancies are generally viewed in a negative light by society (Esdaile &Olsen, 2004). A report by UNICEF (2001) proposed that teenage motherhood isconsidered a problem as it is “strongly associated with a range of disadvantages for the mother, her child, for society in general, and for taxpayers in particular” (as cited by Department of Health and Children, 2002, p.28). Seamark & Lings (2004) notethat previous research has been criticised in its preoccupation with the disadvantagesassociated with teenage pregnancy. Reluctance is evident, both within the literatureand within society as a whole, to celebrate the obstacles that teenage mothersovercome and the psychological benefit that some women may gain from theexperience. Moore & Rosenthal (1995) note that the young woman’s own reaction to becoming pregnant is likely to be dictated by the values held in her culture (as cited by Dempsey et al, 2001). Historically in Ireland sexual activity was viewed as beingdeviant or immoral, and while attitudes have changed somewhat, this outlook prevailsto varying degrees (Lalor et al, 2007). Dempsey et al (2001) acknowledged that manyIrish teenagers fear telling their parents when pregnancy occurs as acceptance of teenage sexual activity is “a relatively recent phenomenon” (p.26).
 
OCCUPATIONAL IDENTITY
Occupational identity was defined by Kielhofner (2002) as “a composite sense of whoone is and wishes to become as an occupational being”. The construction of identitycan be said to be an ongoing process. According to Erikson (1968), the formation of identity is the developmental task of adolescence (as cited by Lalor et al, 2007, p.36).Hence, the teenage years represent a time where a strong sense of self identity isrealised.Individuals seek to form an identity that reflects their values, routines, potentials,limitations and desires (Kielhofner, 2002). Christiansen (1999) noted that occupationis the primary means through which individuals develop their personal identities (ascited by Risteen Hasselkus, 2002, p.17). The use of occupation and experience todevelop identity has been called ‘selfing’ (McAdams, 1997, as cited by RisteenHasselkus, 2002, p.17). Through choosing occupations which mirror one’s personality and nature, an accurate perception of self is moulded. Consequently, themanner in which adolescents allocate their time to various occupations can be said to provide a tangible representation of their developing identities (Shanahan & Flaherty,2001).
Time use for typical teenagers
Literature reports that adolescents have greater opportunities than adults to allocatetime to activities at their own discretion (Shanahan & Flaherty, 2001). Teenagers

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