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Mothers Who Leave

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

Mothers who leave their children in the full-time, long-term care of others represent a small but growing group of women. Estimates based on census data from the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada indicate that the number of women who leave their children is increasing, although men who leave their children continue to produce the majority of lone parent households.

Lesser involvement of fathers, if not acceptable, is generally better tolerated than lesser involvement by mothers. The terms nonresidential mother, noncustodial mother, and absentee mother all refer to mothers who live apart from their children, but each implies a slightly different reason for this living arrangement. The effect of a mother's absence on her, her children, and the mother-child relationship differs depending on whether she was ...

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