Motherhood Identity

Hartman, Meggan (2015) Motherhood Identity. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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The purpose of this research was to explore the ways in which the American culture influences the development of the maternal identity. It focused on the research question: in what ways does the shame that Western, postmodern parenting ideologies can evoke in mothers impact the development of the maternal identity? The target population was mothers with children three months to four years old. The research hypothesis was: The shame that some mothers feel as a result of following popular parenting ideologies can impact the development of maternal identity by diminishing her confidence, instilling feelings of ambivalence towards her child[ren] negating her own needs, and limiting her ability to improvise solutions to perceived problems on the spot. The study’s guiding theory was Rubin and Mercer’s “Becoming a Mother.” The literature illustrates that the process of developing a maternal identity mirrors the rites of passage model. At pregnancy, a woman actively imagines who she will be as mother. After the baby is born, she begins to test her reality against her idealized image. In these stages, some new mothers adhere to guidelines provided by the Internet, media, books, and professionals. Over time they use guidelines less as they gain confidence in their abilities. However, some struggle to make the transition away from these guidelines. Current research has yet to investigate the impact these resources have on the development of the maternal identity. Participants were screened for low confidence. Data was collected through the participant responses to journaling questions and through group discussion of their responses to hearing professionals talk. Co-researchers helped to analyze key moments. Integration occurred upon the presentation of the hypothesis and the preliminary learnings. iv Learnings are summarized as follows: mothers turning away from their own mothers towards the Internet, media, books, and professionals for mothering guidance can experience shame when prescribed methods fail or when they feel judged for deviating from them. Although information sources are designed to help, the shame they can evoke diminishes mothers’ confidence to improvise, increases maternal ambivalence, negates personal needs, and prevents integrating mothering identity into larger self-systems. Given the range of symptoms experienced when maternal identity development is compromised, it is important for professionals to offer a multidisciplinary approach, understanding unique needs and ways that help build confidence in maternal identity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Meggan Hartman
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:49
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:49

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