This study explores the views and experiences of teenage parents as service users of universal child and family health care services. The focus of this study was to reveal lived experience from the emic perspective. For this purpose interpretive hermeneutical phenomenology underpinned by Martin Heidegger’s philosophical perspective was utilized. Thus, this study’s phenomenological focus emphasised the explication of ‘Being’, in this instance ‘being a teenage parent service user’ and the exploration of that existence.
The thematic analysis of the data revealed phenomenological findings represented in themes and subthemes of the phenomenon of both ‘being a teenage parent service user’ of universal child and family health care services and of ‘being in the world of the teenage parent’. These themes included; being in the world of the teenage parent, being supported and helped and encounters with service entities as a service user. In the context of presenting these findings ‘world’ in this instance was viewed from the ontological perspective of ‘being a teenage parent service user’.
Following the initial explication of the phenomenological findings it was evident that participants’ existence was impacted by other people, processes and structures within their world. From these viewpoint critical realist principles using Derek Layder’s (1997) Theory of Social Domains was used to explicate the causative mechanisms within social life that shaped the lived experience of being a teenage parent service user.
The culmination of utilizing both a phenomenological and critical realist approach facilitated the explication of lived experience within the social context. The conceptualization of ‘being a teenage parent service user’ revealed existence shaped by ideological social norms of the teenage parent. These understandings served to shape the personal and social sense of self contributing to the sense of difference, stigma and othering experienced. The negotiation of social milieu at the personal, interactional and contextual level revealed a struggle for participants in challenging the effects of social norms. This negotiation revealed the experience of ‘being a teenage parent service user’ as dependent on how others in their world viewed them. It reveals the inherent power of others to shape the teenage parents’ existence. It reveals the struggle teenage parents have to strive toward future goals and ambitions drawing on both material and cultural resources that facilitate these goals.