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Co-Mothering

  • By: Susan Walker
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Co-mothering is the experience of being a second mother to a child not biologically one's own. It is distinct from adoptive mothering or stepmothering in as much as the child's other parent is also a woman. In this respect the co-mother is not substituting for a missing parent so as to complete a heterosexual parent couple, but is in the position of an extra parent of the same gender as the child's mother. The term has assumed particular significance in the last 30 years with the visibility of lesbian couples and the increasing numbers of lesbian couples parenting children.

Within this context, a co-mother can be the female partner of a mother whose children were conceived in a previous heterosexual relationship. This situation is analogous to ...

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