Reclaiming our identities as good mothers: Narratives of women’s experiences with child welfare

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Yoo, H-J., & Walsh, C. A. (2022). Reclaiming our identities as good mothers: Narratives of women’s experiences with child welfare Journal of Motherhood Initiative, Social Work, Motherhood, and Mothering: Critical Feminist Perspectives, 13(1), 31-44.


The predominant definition of motherhood in Canada, and Western Society, reflects middle-class Eurocentric notions of intensive mothering, whereby mothers are expected to manage their responsibilities as the primary caregiver of their children and household, while maintaining employment outside of the home. This ideology leaves little consideration for the experiences of mothers from diverse socio-economic and ethno-racial backgrounds. We completed a qualitative, exploratory study with three mothers in Calgary, Alberta, who, over the course of a series on in-depth interviews shared stories of the mothering they experienced in childhood, the challenges in their own mothering which resulted in having their children apprehended by the state, and finally their journey to regaining custody of their children. These women’s narratives highlighted their resiliency in their reclaiming identities as good mothers while challenging socially constructed beliefs about women, and mothering. Our intention to disseminate the study findings and specifically ideas about ‘good mothering’ to a wider audience led us to employ an arts based-research practice to develop a children’s book based on Canadian animal models who exhibited mothering behaviors ranging from less to more intensive mothering in the hopes of entertaining and informing our ideas of the multiple ways of being a good mother.


Book description:

In, My Momma Loves Me, an inquisitive, bushy-tailed brown squirrel takes us on an adventure across Canada sharing depictions of motherly love of twelve animal moms. During the journey we meet a majestic admiral butterfly bravely depositing her eggs to a grandma and mom Southern resident killer whale sharing their family tune, this poetic story enchants with vivid expressions of the unconditional love all mothers have for their children.

Research Areas

Province / Territory
Canadian CW research
Journal article