Mexican-heritage children are at greater risk to become overweight or obese than children of other ethnic or racial groups. Despite this, there is limited information in the literature about how the mothers care for their preschoolers after they are classified as overweight or obese. The objective of this study was to gain insight into the lived experiences of Mexican-heritage mothers caring for overweight or obese preschool children to enhance nurses’ ability to effectively care for these children. A qualitative, hermeneutic design was selected for this study guided by the phenomenological approach of Max van Manen. Saturation was achieved after interviewing 12 mothers of Mexican heritage. Seven themes and 11 subthemes emerged from the data. Maternal caring practices were influenced by their Mexican heritage, emotional burdens, and perceptions of child’s weight status, disconnectedness and connectedness with family and health care professionals, and being resourceful. To protect their children from the untoward consequences of overweight, the mothers linked past family history and practices with present needs. Cultural influences, social support, past experiences, available resources, and emotional status all play integral roles in a mother’s ability to partner with nurses in developing a holistic effective plan to care for overweight children.


MexicanHeritage Mothers, Caring, Lived Experience, Preschool, Obesity, Phenomenology, van Manen

Author Bio(s)

Susan McDonald is a pediatric nurse practitioner and maternal-child clinical nurse specialist with over 35 years’ experience which includes staff nursing, nursing administration, and teaching at the BSN level for over 10 years. Dr. McDonald’s research blends her clinical expertise with her research interests. She is currently an assistant professor of nursing at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Susan McDonald at 5822 Rue Bourbon San Antonio, TX 78240; Email: mcdonaldsm@uthscsa.edu; Phone: 409-201-6240.

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