The participants’ demographic characteristics are shown in Table 1. After conducting 20 interviews with participants, 980 primary codes, 30 subcategories, and 6 main categories were extracted, out of which the two themes of ‘laying the groundwork for upbringing’ and ‘individual-social capacity building’ were extracted (Table 2).
1. Laying the groundwork for the upbringing
The theme laying the groundwork for upbringing consisted of two categories: ‘meeting needs’ and ‘effective interaction with the adolescent’.
1-1 Meeting needs
Meeting the adolescent's needs included meeting emotional and financial needs and efforts to maintain adolescent's health. Mothers stated that they used verbal and nonverbal expressions of affection to meet the adolescent's emotional needs.
"We express our love mostly by kissing or, for example, warm greetings (A 53-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)."
They also considered maintaining the adolescent's physical and mental health.
"I am careful about my sons’ weight. I signed both of them up for a swimming training class. I’m sensitive about their food and nutrition. Or, for example, when I see my son is anxious during exam days, I talk to him and calm him down, and when he’s worried, I pay more attention to him (A 53-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree).
Moreover, mothers indirectly met adolescents’ financial needs by providing facilities and financial support.
"After their father's death, I tried to make sure that my children had the same material facilities as before." (A 45-years-old mother, bachelor's degree).
1-2. Effective interaction with the adolescent
The category of effective interaction with adolescents included establishing a heartfelt intimate relationship, as well as, a calm and logical attitude toward adolescents, respecting adolescents’ privacy, indirect supervision of their social relations and activities, giving conditional freedom to adolescents, educating them to empathize with their parents, building trust in adolescents, managing their inappropriate demands, and having a constructive conversation with adolescents.
The majority of mothers stated that they were trying to create a friendly atmosphere, in which the adolescent could be comfortable sharing his/her problems with them.
"We are very friendly. My children can easily speak their heart out with me. We don’t do anything in secrecy, or don’t fear each other." (A 42-year-old mother, elementary degree)
In difficult situations, for coping with the adolescent, mothers used the techniques of interactive conversation, silence, and mediation between the father and the child. They respected their adolescent’s privacy by providing solutions such as not imposing their opinions on them and keeping their secrets.
"Some moms, in front of the teacher and the other kids, say: hey, my kids are annoying me. They talk about everything in front of the kids. But, I manage to resolve the issues between ourselves at home. I try not to let our secrets leak. (A 40-year-old mother, master's degree)
Mothers stated that they used indirect monitoring strategies, setting sensible limitations, and restrictions on freedom to control adolescents. They drew the adolescents’ attention to the parents' situation and its limitations and tried to gain their trust by adapting their words and behavior and keeping the promise. Faced with adolescents’ inappropriate demands, depending on the situation, they used a variety of techniques, such as avoiding immediate reaction, taking a direct, and clear stand against the inappropriate demands, and considering a rational delay in responding to the adolescents’ requests.
"I give my idea directly and try to resist his demands as much as possible. But if I see that he is very insistent, I don’t leave him alone. I take care of him indirectly." (A 45-year-old mother, Ph.D.)
Mothers tried to establish a constructive conversation with the adolescent and convince him/her using the reasoning technique as well as attracting the father's cooperation in managing the challenging situations.
"I say to them what they want is not practical for the family. I give them reasons." (A 45-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)
2. Individual - social capacity building
The theme of the individual-social capacity building included four categories: helping to gain independence, modeling individual-social behavior, socializing, and preparing to accept future roles.
2-1. Helping to gain independence
The category of helping to gain independence included developing independence, assigning responsibility, and boosting adolescent self-confidence. The mothers stated that they gave independence to the adolescents in proportion to their age and tried to respect the adolescent's freedom of making decisions and to avoid excessive support.
"At the age of puberty and adolescence, children want to be independent. This is an inherent matter that children have. It’s gradually forming inside them. We shouldn’t prevent it. I really didn’t prevent it." (A 48-year-old mother, Ph.D.)
To boost adolescents’ self-confidence, they used strategies such as encouraging them, not comparing them with their peers, and informing adolescents about individual differences.
"I say to him that exam scores mustn’t be so important to him. Not all people are the same. One gain higher score in one occasion and the other lower score, and it may turn reverse next time." (A 43-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)
Moreover, the mothers gave adolescents responsibilities in proportion to their abilities.
"I ask them to make a meal or iron their clothes themselves. Sometimes I send my son to do shopping." (A 42-year-old mother, elementary education)
2-2. Modeling individual-social behavior
The behavior modeling category included modeling individual behavior, social-citizenship behavior, and modeling how to interact with others. Mothers stated that they trained their adolescents by becoming a role model for individual, social, and citizenship behaviors.
"Well, kids see everything, for example, what their mother does, or what their father does. Most of the time, there’s no need to say it. My mother-in-law had surgery. I was the only one who was there from the beginning to the end. My daughter sees that I dress her wound and clean her house every day." (A 47-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)
"Well, I observe a lot of ethical issues when I am spending time outdoor or with others, so they follow them too." (A 53-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)
In addition, they tried to be a role model for the adolescent by showing good conduct and effective communication with others.
"I wear make-up, I dress well, I try to be very polite to everyone, in spite of the fact that my husband is in prison and I'm not in a good mood, though. My children see me and consider me as a role model." (A 44-year-old mother, elementary education)
The socialization category included educating social - citizenship order, education of order in personal affairs, educating social norms, training to help the needy people, educating to respect adults, educating to interact well with others, and creating opportunities for interacting with society.
Mothers advised adolescents to protect the environment, observe environmental health, and care for the law and order in society.
"I told him that he couldn’t drive until he got his driver’s license. I told him to respect the people on the street and, also, told him he must stay in line when he wants to buy bread. We’re not different from others. They must put the trash outside door on time." (A 47-year-old mother, bachelor's degree).
The mothers said they taught self-discipline to their adolescents by emphasizing the importance of maintaining order at home and advising them on planning for meeting their daily needs. They encouraged teenagers to follow the norms of society, and also advised them to help needy people.
"I tell them that they have to help the needy. We must not enclose ourselves in a world of our own." (A 48-year-old mother, Ph.D.)
Talking of older adults’ expectations from younger ones, they taught adolescents to care for and respect the elderly.
"If their grandfather gets angry at them, I tell my children that this is relating to his age and they shouldn’t talk back, at all. He’s old, and they should consider his age." (A 42-year-old mother, elementary education)
By advising to be tolerant and treat people well, put oneself in others’ shoes, not to judge others, help others without expecting the same response, and not to retaliate others’ misbehavior, they taught adolescents the right way to interact with people. They also created the proper conditions for adolescents to interact with their peers by providing enough opportunities for peer interactions.
"My daughter has cut her relationships with most of her friends. She says this one talks like this, or that one is talking like that. But I told her that she must talk to everyone based on her/his condition." (A 54-year-old mother, Ph.D.)
2-4. Preparing to accept future roles
This category included preparing adolescents for marriage, teaching about religion, training on financial management, motivating them to study, and fostering adolescents’ judgment ability.
The mothers did prepare their adolescents for marriage by stating key criteria for choosing a life partner and guiding them on how to deal with their spouse in future.
"For example, sometimes I say my daughter how a wife must love her husband. Or I say to her be careful and get ready for your future." (A 51-year-old mother, bachelor’s degree)
Without trying to impose their views, mothers tried to teach religious matters and discuss them with their adolescent children.
"Most of the time, we have a running discussion on religion. But I can never force them on religious issues." (A 41-year-old mother, elementary education)
In addition, through involving the adolescent in family economic situation and affairs and educating them how to keep the balance between income and expenses, mothers emphasized the importance of financial management. They also reinforced the adolescent's motivation to study by emphasizing the value of science and knowledge and prioritizing education.
"I always encourage them to study so that they can better understand the world and have a better job position in society. Telling them, look at how useful some people are." (A 40-year-old mother, master's degree)