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Factors influencing women’s parenting practices : a study of three different family structures in Selebi Phikwe, Botswana.

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The majority of women in Botswana continue to be primary parenting players despite research findings that, compared with men, women in the country are more impoverished, are prone to abuse, and that their rate of participation in decision making processes is limited. Taking into account the foregoing, and without disregard for the importance of men in parenting, this research examined factors that influenced women’s parenting practices within female headed families (FHF), dual career families (DCF) and families where the women were unemployed and their partners or spouses were employed (FWUPE). The study was informed by the qualitative-phenomenological paradigm, underscored by critical theory, with an emphasis on intersectionality as the conceptual framework. Snowball and purposive sampling strategies were used to access 24 participants, eight from each of the family structures. In depth face-to-face interviews, genograms and eco-maps were used to explore, understand and describe women’s parenting practices as well as the factors that expedited or hindered positive parenting practices. I identify my own subject location as a researcher, educator and mother within the political and cultural context of Botswana, my taken-forgranted assumptions about parenting, and the reflexive strategies that I used to guard against my biases and to challenge my assumptions an approach that underlines the salience of critical theory. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. The findings of the study indicated that rather than family structure per se, it was structural factors like education and socio-economic status that intersected to influence some parenting practices. The women’s narratives reflected that dominant cultural constructions of motherhood and fatherhood, and legislation entrenches the more peripheral role of men in childrearing. Given the premium placed on parental authority and power over children, and that the law and culture in Botswana coalesce to support corporal punishment (CP), it was not surprising that authoritarianism characterized most parenting practices, and that CP was widely used. Based on the study findings, recommendations are made in relation to social work education and training, practice, policy and research, with an emphasis on contesting discriminatory cultural practices and legislation so as to enhance family functioning, promote de-gendered positive parenting practices and gender equality, and to ensure the best interests of children.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.