Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Nursing

Supervisor

Dr. Marilyn Evans

Abstract

Parenting an infant with special needs requires performing extra care giving duties and mothers living in rural communities face additional challenges obtaining health and social support services. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experience of parenting young children with special needs from rural mothers’ perspectives. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of 7 mothers. Findings revealed an overarching theme entitled Getting Through It and 6 subthemes: Experiencing the Unexpected; Overcoming the Challenges to Mothering; Unconditional Commitment to Child; The Lived Human Relation as Powerful; Being a Care Co-ordinator; and Being Transformed. Mothers of infants with special needs face unique challenges including long commutes, accessing reliable information about funding and respite services and limited social networking opportunities. The findings can inform nurses, researchers and policy makers developing strategies to mitigate these challenges and better support mothers who have children with special needs in rural communities.