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Absentee Mothers

  • By: Diana L. Gustafson
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

An absentee mother is a woman who lives apart from her minor children on a temporary or permanent basis. The decision leading up to these formal and informal arrangements vary, but are often linked to women's social and economic disadvantages. The effect of absence on a woman, her children, and the mother-child relationship also differs depending on whether she was involved in the decision or had it imposed on her.

A mother's absence may result from a court decision that denies her some or all of her parental rights and restricts physical access to her minor children on a temporary or permanent basis. In the past, unmarried women felt social, economic, or religious pressures to surrender their newborns for adoption, thus permanently absenting themselves from their ...

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