Original Research

South African single mothers’ experiences of raising a child with a disability

Siya Mbanjwa, Clare Harvey
African Journal of Disability | Vol 12 | a1321 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v12i0.1321 | © 2023 Siya Mbanjwa, Clare Harvey | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 August 2023 | Published: 17 November 2023

About the author(s)

Siya Mbanjwa, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Clare Harvey, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Historically, in South Africa (SA), single motherhood has been part of the landscape and continues to increase. Disability in children is also increasing, yet it remains under-researched. Mothers are often left to raise their children with a disability alone, yet their voiced maternal experiences continue to largely be unheard, particularly in SA.

Objectives: This study aimed to explore the lived experiences of single mothers raising a child with a disability in SA. Furthermore, the aim was to explore how these mothers navigate their complex realities and practice of mothering, and to amplify the voices of mothers. Finally, the study sought to shed light on the particular contextual factors that affect single maternal experiences in caring for a child with a disability.

Method: Twelve South African single mothers raising a child with a disability between the ages of 7 years and 18 years were individually interviewed in this exploratory interpretivist study. Thematic analysis was utilised on the data.

Results: The four themes highlight the complex, multi-level strain of raising a child with a disability, which has had a significant impact on the social, financial and emotional facets of single mothers’ lives.

Conclusion and contribution: The findings of the study are important for developing a thorough understanding of the needs of single mothers in this specific context as well as their daily experiences as mothers of children with disabilities. These needs include the necessity of psychosocial support and equipping single mothers with accurate knowledge about their child’s disability so that they can make better accommodations for themselves and their child.


Keywords

child; childhood disability; disability; maternal experiences; motherhood experiences; psychosocial support; single mothers; South Africa.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being

Metrics

Total abstract views: 869
Total article views: 897


Crossref Citations

No related citations found.