Holding Everything Together: Experiences of Palestinian Mothers Under Occupation
In T. Takseva & A Sgoutas (Eds.), Mothers under fire: Mothering in conflict areas. Bradford, ON: Demeter Press, 2015 Forthcoming
11 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
Drawing from research with 18 Palestinian families in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem, this chapter explores how the role of mother as a “holding environment” (Winnicott, 1965) is challenged in the context of political violence. By examining the everyday experiences of Palestinian mothers in the context of protracted political violence, this research found that while they struggle to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities, while also attending to their own physical and mental needs, Palestinian mothers are essentially making efforts to hold everything together. Mothers in this study described the everyday challenges of taking care of their children as well as the everyday tasks related to maintaining a home. Mothers whose husbands were absent expressed feelings of ambiguity when describing the additional hardships they faced. And all mothers indicated that community support — relatives and neighbors attending to their children — alleviated some of the stress related to raising children, though there were also challenges in engaging others in caregiving activities. This exploration of the experiences of mothers is crucial to an understanding of how best to support and respond to the needs of mothers, which in turns leads to the protection of children and families and the amelioration of negative consequences resulting from occupation and violence.
Keywords: Palestine, mothering, children, caregiving
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