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Ideology For Motherhood

The following essay is going to discuss why motherhood is difficult to define from an ideology perspective. It will discuss motherhood in general and what surrounds motherhood and why it is difficult to define from an ideology perspective and also explain what ideology means. The essay will also discuss motherhood and how mothers can be mothers other than through a biological way. Also discussed throughout the essay is how surrogacy and adoption leads to someone becoming a mother. The essay will finish with a conclusion and highlight key facts on motherhood and why it is difficult to define the word motherhood.

A bibliography will be used to show the different sources used to gain the information in the assignment. Ideology is a way of peoples view and perceptions of the way they see the world, different beliefs and people’s expectations of how we live or the way we should live our life. People believe in their beliefs and that they should follow the way they have been shown.

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(Wise geek, 2003) Liberal feminism ideology sees motherhood as rights, responsibilities, empowerment, equity, justice and identity. Whereas matenalism sees motherhood as a material well-being to the health and safety of their children. (Tucker.J, 2004)

The word mother is a simple word but has many more different definitions. This could be the legal, social or traditional way of looking at a mother. A legal definition of a mother is such that as the legal dictionary 2012 states ‘a woman who has born a child is deemed a mother’.

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However this cannot always be the case for some women. As some women cannot bear children so one of the alternative solutions for them is to go down the route of adoption, other stages also such as fostering or even surrogacy. The social way of looking at a mother was mainly confined to mother and child and that the mother raised the child alone.

Motherhood is a relationship and responsibility of caring and nurturing between a woman and a child. The child does not have to be born into the family for the woman to become a mother. A child could be born biologically between father and mother, adopted, born through surrogacy or even a woman taking her partners children as her own and nurturing the children and showing them the way of life till they ready to start a family and carry on the roles of responsibilities towards their own children and raise them the way they have been raised. A mother is not only someone who gives birth to a child but someone who raises and nurtures a child into adulthood. This is where surrogacy, fostering and adoptive mothers come into it. As these women are not biological but they are still mothers.

Motherhood is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as first “a female parent,” and secondly as “maternal tenderness or affection.” Inherent in this definition is the role of a mother as a nurturer. Moms coo to their babies, using soft, sweet voices. They handle their children with gentle mannerisms and softness. In addition, mothers instinctively try to protect their children from pain and suffering. This includes emotional pain as well as physical discomforts. Mothers provide a nurturing environment where their children can feel safe and secure. (

Gender ideology round motherhood is that mothers believe that anything they do or want to do is frowned upon from a gender role view, such as if a woman wants to work as a builder. For example: Builders are seen as a male role and that mothers should stay at home and cook, clean and look after the children. A traditional family such as two children and a mother and father, the wage earner was the father who worked full time and the mother stayed at home as a ‘housewife’ to look after the house and children and cook ready for father to come in from work. However if the other chooses to work they are mainly only in part-time employment earning a lot less than what the father does. Now in the 20th century there are more rights for mothers and more help is available for mothers to work and fathers to stay at home and look after the children. A mother’s employment has tripled since 1951 to 2008, and this is continuing to rise because of the number of welfare and benefits available for working families.

From the 17th and 18th centuries ‘childhood’ was seen as a valuable time in their life and mothers started to breastfeed their children more. However upper class women thought breastfeeding was disgusting and did not feed their babies from the breast. In the nineteenth century ethnic women and white working class women were labelled true and good mothers whereas single mothers were looked upon and were no better thought off. Middle class women had the freedom and choice to stay at home, women of colour were considered ‘scientifically’ inferior mothers and excluded from the ideologies surrounding good mothering. Motherhood is looked at upon differently in different cultures and beliefs, however most agreeing that mothers have a duty to care for the children by providing the safe and warm upbringing of their children. Mothers not only care for the child they are perceived to take responsibility to look after the household and the rest of the family. ‘’Eighteenth century British society insisted upon domesticity as the most appropriate venue for the fulfilments of a woman’s duties” (Francus, 2012) Mothers nowadays makes the decisions on behalf of her children and many organisations, such as doctors and schools consult the mother first before consulting the father.

Sometimes the father does not have a say in what happens and can only back the mother up or disagree but sometimes legally they are not involved. Motherhood can be difficult to define as there are many changes happening in short spaces of time. For example; a mother could be a mothering figure to her partner’s children as a step mother, a grandmother could be bringing up her grandchildren for any number of reasons. Adoptive and fostering mothers are also seen as mothers but not in the biological sense, but in the nurturing of children. Surrogacy is a way for a woman to become a mother if they can biologically reproduced children themselves or chooses not to. Another woman carries the embryo that has come from the real father and the woman’s egg and planted into the surrogate mothers womb in order for her to carry the baby until the birth of the child where baby would be handed over to the parents.

The question is who is the real mother of the child? If it is a gestational surrogacy where egg from woman and man’s sperm is fertilised into a surrogate mother then the woman whose egg it was would be classed as the biological mother, however must also be aware that the baby can still get the surrogate mothers personality or attitudes ( ) However according to it says that the woman who gives birth is treated as the legal mother even if they are not genetically related. In the US surrogacy is legal but in the UK surrogacy is illegal if you pay the surrogate, except for their reasonable expenses. Adoption is a process that allows children to be safely looked after by parents, women who choose to adopt must have a nurturing manner and a natural instinct and create a bond
with the child and appreciates that it slowly happens over time. The child must be brought up and cared for like she gave birth the child naturally and guide the child to life expectancy. This role is not for the weak of spirit, or the easily wounded. Loving a child not born to her but calling him her own, but this is what she does, it is her calling. She is a mother.

Years ago mothers were looked upon as been at home full time and teaching their children to have manners. Feminism demonstrated that women were restricted in what they did and didn’t have a say as becoming a mother was part of her nature, however she had to obey her husband in the decisions made within the household. According to Rothman (1989) a woman’s womb is her flower pot and that a man plants the seed which then produces the child, they became the fathers property as they came from his seed, even though the woman contributes to the reproduction process, however still they have no say. They were classed a medium contributor to the reproduction process and they carried the children and gave birth to the flower that blossom from the seed planted by the father. In the 20th century mothers have more rights and although some people still feel that fathers should go to work full time and be the breadwinner, now that times have change where the woman’s job was to look after the children, they now don’t feel scared or threatened to share the child upbringing with the father.

There are a lot more ‘house-husbands at home while the mother goes to work, this gives fathers more involvement and help to nurture the children in life. Some mothers still feel they are selfish though by going to work and leaving the child, most tend to find part time jobs or take a flexible hours position so that they can fit work in around the children and still play a huge part in their children’s life. Unlike before in the early years a woman can plan her life and decide when is the best time to have a child, due to access to different contraception’s women can control if they become pregnant. They are in control of the decision and decide if they have the mother instinct and nurturing ways to raise and care for a child The following essay has discussed what ideology around motherhood is and how people perceive motherhood. It also has explained about motherhood in the olden days and that mothers were to stay at home to care for the children and household compared to now in the 20th century and how times have changed and fathers have a more hands on approach with their children’s upbringing.

Discussed within the essay it has explain that mothers are not just mothers through the biological reproduction process that they can be mothers by adoption, surrogacy, or raising children as they there are their own children and nurturing and loving the child the same way as a biological mother would. It also discussed about feminism and how times have changed and that people don’t assume that the mother is a full time mother and are not shocked to find that the father is looking after children and taking a more hands on role.

Reference (2013) What is a adoptive mother {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 Cole,E &Knowies,J. (1990) Motherhood: A feminist perspective. Vol 10:London,The Haworth press Francus, M. (2012). Monstrous motherhood: eighteenth-century culture and the ideology of domesticity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. (2013) Rights for surrogate mothers {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 (2013) Women’s life {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 Llyod,E &Woollett,A (1991) Motherhood:meanings, practices and ideologies.Sage publications, California Suite 101 (1996) Social institution of motherhood {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 Social work and society international online journal (2011) Historical Perspective on the Ideologies of Motherhood and its Impact on Social Work {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 The free dictionary (2013) Mother, {online} available at: Accessed April 2013 Wisegeek (2003) Motherhood,{online} available at: Accessed April 2013

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Ideology For Motherhood. (2016, Mar 13). Retrieved from

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