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France

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

The word motherhood in French is maternité; the French hold the idea of motherhood in the highest regard, even though for years many have disputed the role of mothers. Throughout the history of France, these changes in the roles of motherhood have been caused by external forces, including philosophical ideas, the aristocracy, religion, and government.

Before the Enlightenment, motherhood was a necessary burden that many women endured. They often felt that the duties of being a mother encroached on their lives at home, at the salon, and at court. The affluent sent their young ones to wet nurses, often in the country; these children did not return to the home manor until they were 5 years of age. The lack of motherly care took its ...

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