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  • Author or Editor: Marja-Leena Laakso x
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This study examined how Finnish parents working non-standard hours (N=18) positioned institutional flexibly scheduled early childhood education and care (ECEC) as a link in their chain of childcare. Interview data, analysed following the principles of discursive psychology, yielded three discourses on flexibly scheduled ECEC: the discourse of the child’s best interest, the discourse of the labour market, and the discourse of equality of opportunity for the child. Flexibly scheduled ECEC was positioned in these discourses either as the last resort option for childcare, a safe haven for the child, a societal service enabling parents to work during non-standard hours or as a place for children’s learning. It is important to recognise the origins of these discourses and reflect on them to improve ECEC services, so that they meet the demands of safety as a link in the chain of childcare and increase the level of parental satisfaction with them.

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This study examined how lone mothers rationalise their work during non-standard hours (e.g., evenings and weekends), which they perceive as problematic in terms of child wellbeing, and thereby as violating the culturally shared moral order of ‘good’ motherhood. The data comprise interviews with 16 Finnish lone mothers, analysed as accounts, with a special focus on their linguistic features. The mothers displayed morally responsible motherhood through: (1) excusing work during non-standard hours as an external demand; (2) appealing to an inability to act according to good mothering ideals; (3) using adaptive strategies to protect child wellbeing; and (4) challenging the idea of risk. Our findings indicate that the moral terrain lone mothers must navigate is shaped by the ways in which their family situation contravenes powerful ideologies around good mothering, while their efforts to resist the ensuing stigma are constrained by the need to engage in work during non-standard hours.

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