Mothering Without a Home: Internalized Impacts of Social Exclusion Academic Article uri icon

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  • Mothering while homeless poses significant barriers in achieving health and unique challenges while parenting without a home. The contextual processes shaping mothers’ experiences of social exclusion and homelessness, and the internalized impacts on homeless mothers’ lives, are reported on in this article. Critical narrative methodology was employed with 41 participants comprised of 26 mothers experiencing homelessness, and 15 service providers who provided care to mothers experiencing homelessness participated in this study. Two overarching themes were constructed: (1) internalized expectations and regulation and (2) pushing back from the margins: sources of resilience and resistance. Women showed a great deal of agency within the existing structures of exclusion; they worked, and at times fought, tirelessly for safety, housing, their children, and their human rights. They actively demonstrated their agency and resistance within the webs of exclusion they faced. In promoting health, nurses can best support mothers in many ways, such as by employing strengths-based nursing, challenging their own stigma and notions of ‘good mothering’, and by recognizing and challenging the often insurmountable barriers posed within the system for this population.


  • Benbow, Sarah
  • Forchuk, Cheryl
  • Berman, Helene
  • Gorlick, Carolyne
  • Ward-Griffin, Catherine

publication date

  • June 2019