This is the first study to use ethno-mimesis to explore the lived experiences of mothers navigating child-to-parent violence initiated by pre-adolescent children. The current child-to-parent violence research landscape is predominantly focused upon the experiences of parents of adolescent children, identifying that violent behaviours can be used as a life-long strategy. This research uses innovative methods to explore the lived experiences of mothers, and how they understand and navigate the violence of their pre-adolescent child. Using ethno-mimesis to allow for the intersection of socio-cultural theory (social roles and expectations); experience (reflection on motherhood); and practice (creating visual representations), five mother experiencing child-to-parent violence were identified and recruited from three parent support groups in the North of England. These mothers individually reflected on their experiences of violence, as mothers with young children, with responses thematically analyzed underpinned by phenomenological inquiry. Mothers in this research identified the violence as a symptom of wider structural, neurological, or mental health difficulties their child was experiencing rather than the problem itself. Participants did not believe the violence was intentional but was due to uncontrollable and overwhelming emotions. Nevertheless, there was considerable overlap between the experiences of these mothers and previous research into maternal experiences of adolescent violence; maternal experiences of adult child-to-parent violence, and intimate partner violence. By understanding the behaviours of younger children, there is opportunity to provide whole-family interventions which will prevent lifecourse trajectories, and focus upon the challenges and support needs of mothers living with this form of violence and abuse.
Rutter, N. (2021). “I’m meant to be his comfort blanket, not a punching bag” – Ethnomimesis as an exploration of maternal child to parent violence in pre-adolescents. Qualitative Social Work, 20(5), 1317-1338. https://doi.org/10.1177/1473325020940774