Motherhood in hard times: phenomenological study on mothers responses, concerns and coping in relation to terrorist attacks in Turkey

Thesis Type: Postgraduate

Institution Of The Thesis: Middle East Technical University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences, Turkey

Approval Date: 2017

Thesis Language: English

Student: Meryem Gökyar



Human made disasters like wars, forced immigration and terrorism leads to a global security problem. Turkey is not an exception, in terms of experiencing civil war, several terrorist attacks, coups and refugee issues. In this present study, 21 mothers of children between ages 3-15 were interviewed about their own and children’s responses to the recent terrorist attacks. This study suggests that mothers are stressed by these terror events, and give various responses in emotional, behavioural and thoughts dimensions: Shock and confusion, sorrow-worry-terror, feeling insecure and incapable, threat perception, mistrust to others, checking loved one’s security and not going to malls or crowded places are a few from these responses. Similar to the literature, mothers perceived that their children mimic their own anxiety, feel terror-fear-worry and think something bad is happening. Mothers mainly tried comforting their children, engaging in open communication and monitoring the news and their own behaviours. Mothers had terror related concerns about children’s physical and psychological well-being, losing a loved one and dying and abandoning their children. They also had future related and everyday related concerns about their children. In order to cope with these concerns, mothers mainly employed problem focussed coping to protect and empower their childrenand emotion focused coping for their own stress-relief. These results were discussed in relation to terror trauma and stress literature from the international domain like post 9/11 America and post-Intifada Israel. The implications of the results for counselling was also provided for mental-health professionals, policy makers and the scholars.