Goddess, R. (2023). Does it really take a village? A heuristic inquiry into the meaning of spiritual community to single spiritual but not religious mothers [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Single Spiritual But Not Religious (S,SBNR) mothers face marginalisation for being spiritual (Eise & Rawat, 2023) and for being single (O’Reilly, 2021). Oppressive patriarchal ideology and rising individualism in western culture augment maternal responsibilities. Feminist perspectives (Glaser, 2021; O’Reilly, 2010) highlight developmental and sociocultural concerns yet gaps in theoretical knowledge limit effective interventions. Molina (2021) found maternal spiritual connections were beneficial in married mothers, yet little is known about single mothers. The meaning and impact of Spiritual Community (SC) to six S,SBNR mothers was explored in this heuristic inquiry featuring interviews and personal experimentation. Moustakas’ (1990) stages of immersion, incubation, illumination and explication manifested the intuitive and creative thematic analysis. Main findings demonstrate this demographic is uniquely challenged, and that SC is a vital component in maternal and child wellbeing trajectories. SC is a safe space for processual unfolding, reduces allostatic overload, stems loneliness and maintains spiritual integrity. SC is preventative to toxic stress and improves motivation and commitment to conscious parenting. The research expands theoretical perspectives and shows S,SBNR mothers are enacting a paradigmatic shift in parenting and in mental health. Future directions should increase social justice through exploring potential interventions to make it easier to build quality community in motherhood.

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