When an individual engages in mother-blaming, he or she is blaming the mother for a problematic behavior or pathology evidenced by the child. Throughout history, mothers have been held accountable when their child’s behavior is viewed as atypical. In the United States, general health care providers, child development experts, and mental health providers, among others, have contributed to the tendency to blame mothers when a child experiences problems. This entry will provide an overview of the historical factors and review the current implications of mother-blaming.

Psychological Theory and Mother-Blaming

Refrigerator Mother Conceptualization

In the 1940s, John Hopkins University psychiatrist Leo Kanner attributed autism in children to the lack of parental warmth and particularly to emotionally cold mothers. He is credited with coining the disparaging term refrigerator mother to ...

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