At-home moms go back to school, a qualitative study of the role exit process
Lien, Joni Helen
The purpose of this study was to explore women's experience of the transition from full-time mother to post-secondary student. Existing research typically does not distinguish between women who have been at home full-time from women who have been employed in the labor force prior to school reentry. The present study used Ebaugh's model of role exit to examine how the salience and centrality of the mothering identity affects women as they enter college or university. Study participants were ten women who had been stay-at-home mothers for at least three years. Data were gathered in semi-structured interviews. Results showed differences in the degree of centrality of "mothering" in the women's identities. Results also showed how specific "gains" associated with school reentry outweighed specific "losses" and led to successful transitions into the student role. Practice and policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.