Mothering as a life course transition: Do women go straight for their children?

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Abstract

In this study, qualitative, in-depth interviews were conducted with 100 formerly incarcerated mothers to explore the relationship between attachment to children and desistance from criminal behavior. Exploratory data analysis revealed that mothers do believe that children play important roles in their desistance, consistent with the tenets of life course theory. However, children were also described as sources of great stress, which may in turn promote criminal behavior. Women also related desistance to reliance on self and a higher power, and to a desire to avoid future involvement with the criminal justice system. The article concludes with a call for more research on women's desistance, and increased consideration of parent-child relationships in corrections policy decision making.

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Keywords

  • Attachment
  • Children
  • Desistance
  • Life course theory
  • Mothers
  • Reentry

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