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Daughters and Mothers

  • By: Paula J. Caplan
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Mothers and daughters are sometimes considered natural allies and sometimes considered natural enemies. What resolves the paradox of the coexistence of these views is recognition of the societal myths about mothers that have profound impact on the mother-daughter relationship, as well as understanding of the nature of power as it pertains to mothers.

It is not, of course, the case that mothers and daughters have more problematic relationships than do mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, or fathers and sons. In fact, the likelihood that both mother and daughter have been socialized to care about and become skilled at dealing with feelings and relationships often enriches the mother-daughter relationship beyond other parent-offspring relationships. So does the potential for understanding each others' sex- and gender-based dilemmas.

Myths ...
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