The Myths Of Maternal Bliss

2055 WordsMay 6, 20169 Pages
Introduction/Background “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just never imagined it would be like this. It’s so hard and I just feel…like I’m a bad mom.” Countless times I have listened as my contemporaries echo these same misgivings, whispering the last few words as though they were a confession. They are concerned that something may be wrong with them. They worry that they are bad mothers, and they believe that they are the only ones who feel this way. However, current research shows that this is far from true. In fact, motherhood is often associated with a number of negative mental health outcomes, including symptoms of depression, anxiety, physiological malaise, and a lack of happiness (Goldsteen and Ross 1989; Rizzo, Schiffrin, and Liss 2012; Ross 1995). But this reality often remains unseen, protecting the deeply cherished myths of maternal bliss held by contemporary western societies. These myths, which depict mothering practices as a woman’s natural and joyful instinct, are understood by researchers as the social and historical constructions of motherhood, ideologies that are not indicative of a biologically determined state, but of a cultural construction (Ambert 1994; Bassin, Honey, and Kaplan 1996; Glenn 1994; Hrdy 2000; Phoenix, Woollett, and Lloyd 1991; Thurer 1994). More recently, researchers have stressed the importance of these mothering ideologies, arguing that they are often internalized as powerful messages that shape our understanding and expectations
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