(Re)Displaying Family: Relational Agency of Care-experienced Young People Embarking on Parenthood

Caroline Cresswell - Families in Motion: Ebbing and Flowing through Space and Time


The chapter explores an overlooked theme across the literature: capturing the experience of childhood family disruption and transitional flux between foster family homes and the independent sensemaking into the present of young care-experienced parents. The chapter draws upon research that constructed 20 biographical life story accounts of a diverse sample of foster care-experienced young people. The chapter aims to reflect upon the findings garnered from six of these accounts through extracting the narratives of a selection of participants who were to become or had become parents. This chapter makes sociological connections between past family disruption, demarcating present families of choice, and reconciliation of the past through experiencing parenting into the future within constructed ‘family displays’ (Finch, 2007). The chapter illustrates this phenomenon through narrative accounts offering a family history of parents who have experienced a variance of transitions between family units and who were negotiating, or had negotiated, their post-care independence through the role of becoming a parent themselves. The chapter highlights the symbolic value of parenting to the lives of young people who have experienced care in recalibrating their past familial experiences, as demonstrated through their family displays. Through the family displays of care-experienced parents, the importance of the relational context to youth transition ultimately reveals itself, as does the development of relational agency, and ultimately the role of parenting in developing a young person’s independent ‘post-care’ identity.