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Becoming a Mother

  • By: Jill B. Fancher & Elizabeth Soliday
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Becoming a mother is simultaneously one of humankind's simplest and most complex identity development tasks. From a physical and social perspective, motherhood begins when a woman has a child. When and how women come to identify themselves as mothers, however, are complex processes that vary with each woman's unique personality and circumstances, including social demands, personal expectations, biological versus adoptive mothering, relationship roles, career/financial roles and status, health status, military status, and sexual orientation.

Identity and Ideals

By definition, identity provides connections to established groups, and is constructed of a set of values and norms. Mothering values and norms are developed through the experience of having been mothered; community, social, and religious norms; and observing mothers in everyday situations and in the media. The specific impact of ...

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