The conventional wisdom that teenage mothering risks the future disregards the fact that the young mother's experience and understanding of her past as well as her anticipation of the future are intimately tied to the social world she inhabits.To recover the contextual and temporal nature of teenage mothers' lives, this interpretive-phenomenological study explored young mothers' self-understandings of identity and the life course as participants and members of families and communities. Implications of interpretive findings for a narrative conception of identity and the life course are described and applied to community-based, community-focused primary health care.
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri.
This research was funded by the Alpha Eta Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau; the Fahs-Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation; the Century Club, School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF); the Graduate Division, UCSF; and a predoctoral National Research Service Award, National Center for Nursing Research (NR1F31NR06266). The author gratefully acknowledges the thoughtful critique of an earlier version of this article by Frank Furstenberg, Jr, PhD, and the mentorship and assistance of Patricia Benner, RN, PhD, from beginning to completion of this study.