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Religion and Mothering

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

Mothering can be viewed as both a biological and a social fact. Biologically speaking, motherhood is the process of conceiving, gestating, and birthing a child (or children). Socially, motherhood involves the raising, rearing, and socialization of children. While the two processes are not mutually exclusive, in most cultures, the two are intimately intertwined. The family is a primary institution in the majority of world cultures, and motherhood is an important aspect of family life. Not surprisingly, the majority of world traditions express attitudes, guidelines, and sometimes restrictions upon both the biological and social facts of mothering and motherhood.

Some religious attitudes toward mothering place mothers and motherhood into what one scholar has called “an exalted realm.” Motherhood is made sacred through images of powerful mother or ...

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