Researchers with the Department of Psychology are looking to recruit moms of any marital status or sexual orientation. Stepmoms and adoptive moms are also invited to take part in the survey.
“For us motherhood covers the gamut of different motherhood experiences,” Julie Gosselin, the director of the department’s family resilience lab, said in a telephone interview.
“If you’re not necessarily a biological mom but you are still parenting children, we are still interested in your point of view.”
Gosselin said the project is the first time researchers have worked to create a profile of motherhood in Newfoundland and Labrador. The research focuses on mothers of children 18 years and younger.
In capturing these maternal experiences, it’s important to have participation from mothers in all areas of the province, Gosselin said, including rural areas.
Recruitment is going well, she said, with over half of the 500 participants sought for the study already identified.
“My biggest concern is that we will have an over-representation of people from the Avalon. So I’m reaching out to more rural areas because I really want this database to be representative of the whole province,” Gosselin said.
Participation in the project requires moms to complete an online survey, which takes about 20 minutes and covers numerous topics from demographic information, parent-child relationships, co-parenting, health challenges mothers are encountering in raising their children and their overall wellbeing.
“It’s a two-part survey and, at the end of the survey, mothers have the opportunity to leave contact information if they want to participate in a follow-up interview,” Gosselin said.
Mothers are central to family life and community wellbeing, Gosselin said. However, research rarely pays attention to their maternal experiences, rather relying on mothers to participate in research that pertains to their children.
“Moms are very important to family health, to children’s development and to community health. And we don’t study moms directly. We ask them questions about their family and their children, but we don’t ask them questions about their own life and experiences,” Gosselin said.
The survey is an opportunity for moms to be able to offer their opinions to the larger community on what their life as mothers is like and what issues they are facing, she said.
The current study will fill the void that exists in family-focused research, Gosselin said.
“We are looking at all kinds of different variables that are related to families but also related to regional discrepancies and differences,” she said.
The researchers will be looking for specific challenges that mothers in Newfoundland and Labrador face related to issues such as access to services in rural areas of the province as well as the impact mobile work has on families.
“We know mobile work affects families, and we are looking at fertility issues because there is only one fertility clinic in the province and that’s in St. John’s. It has limited services and does not offer IVF (in vitro fertilization),” Gosselin said.
Gosselin said the information will be used to develop a large database that will be helpful in other research projects.
“That’s why we want to get a broad diversity of mothers participating so that the database can be useful for a number of years... for a number of different projects which will hopefully benefit mothers from across the province,” she said.
The database can also be shared with decision-makers and stakeholders across the province, she added.
“We think this will be useful information for family policy (decisions).”
A link to the survey can be found here.
Mothers who would like to participate in the survey by phone can contact Shannon Bedford, the project’s research coordinator, at (709) 864-7693. Bedford can also be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.