Mothering versus Motherhood

There was no principal difference found in the meanings of these two words: mothering and motherhood. But when the subject was raised by feminist activists showing the real situation happening in the contemporary families the strong necessity in defining both terms appeared: “Related to the processes and meanings of mothering is the social status of being a mother. Motherhood, enveloped with beliefs and values, is institutionalized not only in marriage and family arrangements and practices, but also in law and social policy and through representations in literature, film, and other cultural forms” (Arendell Teresa, 1999). But still there are lots of debates held according to the question of defining both terms and what are they actually mean in contemporary society and what was changed during the last 50 years, since the problems of mothering and motherhood attracted social attention and attention of scientific world.

The development of the both terms was going on rapidly and a strong need to define and divide the meanings appeared in the second part of the 20th century. Let’s see what is meant under the every term.

If we take the suggested formula of mothering the first thing that should be taken into account that mothering as a social status is strongly connected with some other conceptions ”“ adulthood, gender constructivism, parenting and family, certainly children and childhood.

The idea of motherhood is uniting such a great variety of themes even philosophical and psychological ones, that it could hardly be defined within the few words. It is also important to note that the idea of motherhood represented by Teresa Arendell is strongly connected to almost all the spheres of social life of every human.

Strong connection within these two comprehensions put some investigators into the complicated situation. The definitions of the both complete one another.

But still the term mothering includes wide variety of the social state being a mother: intensive mothering and sensitive mothering are among the terms that drew attention of psychologists and sociologists for the last years: “Intensive mothering is the dominant cultural ideology of Mothering. This motherhood mandate declares that mothering is exclusive, wholly child centered, emotionally involving, and time-consuming” (Sharon Hayes, 1996) ”“ insists a well known sociologist Sharon Hayes. She insists that social portray of a ”˜good mother’ is strongly connected with an image of a perfect mother that is living not her own life but the life of her children.

The social connections between mothering and motherhood makes the question with meaning defining very complicated. But still scientists have further recommendations as the studies and social attention to the problems of mothering and motherhood are growing day by day: “Mothering and motherhood are the subjects of rapidly expanding bodies of literature. Study of mothering spans efforts to develop general conceptual models to careful examinations of selected social and psychological variables. For all of the contributions to our understanding of mothering and mothers’ lives, however, we are left with major gaps. We need more attention to the lives of particular mothers. By focusing our investigations on mothers’ identities, experiences, and activities, and understandings of each, we can secure far more realistic and less normative portrayals of mothers’ lives. At the same time, demanding further study are the influences on mothering of various political, economic, and other social and historical developments. We need work that connects mothers’ personal beliefs and choices with their social situations.  We will benefit from greater conceptual clarity, empirical depth, and better integration of theory and data. We especially need theory building grounded in mothers’ experiences, discerned through a variety of methods.  Through such work, we will attain not only a fuller, richer, and deeper understanding of mothering, but also, more generally, of caring and ethics of care (Arendell Teresa, 1999)

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