She is a fighter, a ‘warrior’, a mythical character, a ‘goddess’. She is made of love, but she knows pain and she is willing to ‘make sacrifices’. This strong and yet gentle creature has management skills and bear the power of life. She is the ultimate Wonder Woman. She is a contemporary mom.
Beyond this poetic description that is present in many definitions of motherhood, what is the role of contemporary women in parenting?
One of the most popular words of our time is evolution. We’ve heard a lot about how much our generation has evolved, made progress in numerous areas. We live in a time where technology has fundamentaly revolutionized our way of life, our way of communicating with each other.
And yet, it would seem that one of the oldest role in life has remained the same: being a mom. Despite ongoing challenges, women remain the cornerstone in a child’s life. What can explain such stagnation in parenting?
This month of May, we have invited a group of women from four different countries (USA, Canada, Brazil, and Dominican Republic) to share their thoughts on motherhood. From this talk, it turns out that motherhood is a one of the most difficult and demanding jobs in the world.
This is the tale of motherhood, it is a labor of love, a love made of sacrifices and self-denial. The mother appears to be the most prominent parental figure in a child’s development.
“Being a mom means love. Children, no matter how old they are, and even if they won’t admit it, always want their parents’ approval and love especially when they think they did something wrong. It is important as a mom to let them know that they are loved no matter what”, says Rachel Frédérique Bruno
Many questions are raised from our Talk on Motherhood.
- What is a woman’s role in a child’s life cycle?
- Are women more involved in children’s education than men? If yes, why?
- Do social pressure compel women to be more involved in raising children than men?
A study from Pew Research argues that mothers today face tougher challenges than men. The study consisting of about 2020 interviews conducted among Americans suggests that contemporary women with children live through tougher times than mothers from three decades ago. Women in present times are also more criticized about their lack of good parenting skills.
“Mothers are seen as having the more difficult job, but they are also judged more harshly than are fathers.” – (Pew Research)
How 18 women from different generations depict the female role in parenting
Many women from our Talk bring forth similar reasoning to the Pew Research study. One of the hardest truth is that women’s condition has progressed, allowing them to be on a par with men in several social areas. Therefore, the female parent’s social responsibility has increased while her duty at home has remained the same, thus the motherly Wonder Woman figure.
“Being a mother in 2017 is very different from being a mother in the 80’s. Most mothers these days work full-time or are full-time students. So, it’s hard to manage, but we are always trying to make it happen,” observes Belise Nda, a millennial mom.
This thought also echoes in Rachel Frédérique Bruno‘s statement. “It was always interesting to see, when growing up, how my mom would deal with a husband and 5 kids. None of us felt neglected. Even now that we are all grown up, she is still there for all of us, and she is never tired. This is love.”
Deisy Toussaint defines motherhood as ‘being a goddess‘, a mythical character who is strong enough to endure unbearable pain to bear life and “gives birth, whom with love and pain brings a being to the world to continue the course of generations.”
To Josephine Keyamo, the role of a mom is to provide ‘unconditional love‘, guidance, “providing for” your children for future and longer term. Josephine recalled “Mum gave me money for deposit for buying my first home, I intend doing same for my child.”
A woman’s role as a parent is then to be able to love her children unconditionally, to make sacrifices for the well-being of her children and yet to provide for them financially. Isn’t it what today’s society is expecting from a female parent?
What is the role of a woman in the child’s life cycle?
It’s to be the wonder woman in a child’s life. This idea is predominant in most testimonies.
“Being a mom means stop living for yourself and breathe for your child(en). It means being always ready to make sacrifices for the sake of the child (en)’s well-being,” argues Farah Cherlyne Rondeau.
Phaiede Lafleur conquer by saying that on top of everything else, “I’ve come to the conclusion that motherhood is about SACRIFICE. The sacrifice that I’ve seen mothers made so that their children could have a better life is INCOMPARABLE.”
It’s also “about the positive influence a woman has on each child in her life; it’s about giving love in a way that isn’t fleeting—you love, unwaveringly”, points out Mimie L.
It is an ongoing fight to raise the citizens of tomorrow.
Carolina Eichler confides that “being a mother means a love greater than everything and being a warrior to face all the tribulations of everyday life”.
While a woman has to wear so many hats as a parent, it is normal to wonder about the male role in a child’s life.
Veronique Dolce is advocating for a stricker and past form of motherhood where “all mothers knew that being a mother was the most important job in the world”. In her eyes many contemporary “mothers fell to assume responsibility and that’s why now we have a big trend of single father”.
- Do fathers have it as tough as mothers?
- Do fathers have to make equal sacrifices, while being equally loving, caring, and present in their children’s life?
This is unlikely that fathers face the same social pressure to be supermen or wonder dads as many studies indicate.
In a study about Single Motherhood from the American Prospect, single motherhood is portrayed as being the norm since the 1960’s while single fatherhood is not that common. Some seem to literaly attribute the sole responsibility of birthing and raising children to women.
A conservative politician named Charles Murray said in the 1990’s about the father’s role that: “As far as I can tell, he has approximately the same causal responsibility as a slice of chocolate cake has in determining whether a woman gains weight.”
It would seem that almost three decades later women haven’t reached parity with men when it comes to raising children. Still today, the mother is more likely to be held accountable than the father.
Generation Z millennial (1989-2004) standpoint on motherhood
- Should the fact that women bear life increase her responsibility in child-rearing, diminishing the father’s role?
- Could it be that unconciously women assign themselves the tougher parenting role?
- Or do social rules confine women in the tougher areas of parenting, giving male parents the freedom to thrive in society?
The answers to these questions are not clear, but let’s see what our young millennial participants think about that.
Bing Yao expresses strong opinion about the role a mom should play in a child’s life in the present-day. She is advocating for social changes on behalf of motherhood.
“Today, there is increasingly tighter links between motherhood and social environment, that mom is no longer the only one to decide how to behave so that a positive effect could be produced. The mass media, the school, other organizations and of course the husband and other family members could exert great influence and therefore influence [the way a mother is] dealing with motherhood,” argues the young millennial.
Rivka Louis narrates tales of sacrifices her single mom made for her well-being and her siblings while denying her own happiness. “She was always afraid to bring a guy home because she had mostly girls and she didn’t want anything to happen to us“, recalls the young woman.
To Marianna Hernandez, the role of female parents is to be “a role model for your young ones. If you want to raise good human beings you want to start with yourself.”
The idea of role model is also shared by millennial Jayneisha Ivory. In her eyes, motherhood is about “making sure you are a role model and a person that your children can look up to in the future” and taking seriously “your responsibility as a parent”.
Ruth Tania points out that mothers have an obligation to care for and protect their children.
“Motherhood I think it’s as soon as you feel the needs to protect someone else as if it was a part of your body, I can even say you”, argues this young millennial.
Naya Ileran‘s approach to motherhood is the ultimate love, loving your children more than yourself. “Being a mom is suddenly caring for that one person, and loving that person more than you love life itself, it’s being selfless, it’s being tired but always smiling”, says the young woman.
Tina Roberts (pseudonym) admits that her mother ‘has inspired’ her to ‘focus on her career’.
“I saw how many things you actually can’t do because you have children, and my mother had 5 kids and I could see how it impedes a woman from building her own dreams.”
“It’s certainly harder to do many things with children, but not impossible. So she certainly inspires me to do better for myself and the world around me”, adds the young woman.
Finally, Magdalande Pierre rejoins her millennial group when it comes to the role of mothers in parenting.
“Motherhood to me means to take the responsibility to care for a being mentally and physically; to teach that being how to take care of themselves and become independent. Most all to give them guidance, love, and all the other qualities that they would need to get through life.”
In conclusion, most participants in our Talk on Motherhood depict the role of women in parenting as literaly being a Wonder Woman.
Older women focus on the needs to know how to ‘love unconditionaly’, to care mentaly, physically, and financially for her children, to ‘protect them’, to ‘sacrifice’ herself for the ‘well-being of her children’. Young millennials see mothers as a ‘role model’, someone capable of taking ‘responsibility’ and who is always ‘present’ for her children.
So now to answer another question raised from this talk:
Do social pressure compel women to be more involved in raising children than men?
There is not a definitive answer to this question. However, we can refer to some internationaly social pointers to provide some leads to solutions. Looking broadly at the world, there is in every society rules that women are supposed to follow.
Just think about the widespread belief of maternal instinct, this belief that women has biological clock compelling them to become mothers. Some beliefs go as far as to say that mothers has a sixth sense to know what’s going on with their children even when children are far away.
On the other hand, it seems that there is no such a thing as paternal instinct. There is nonetheless a wide array of worldwide psychologists and studies to still demonstrate that motherhood and child-rearing are a woman’s obligation.
One Japanese study maintains that “Maternal Instinct Is Wired Into the Brain” as reported by the New York Times. Another one pretends that “men have lower level of testosterone when they become a father” and that taking care of their children “may accelerate the decline of the male hormone”. (Source: coparents.com).
Does society compel women into confined and pre-defined parenting roles? The answer seems to be a definitive YES. Women are seen as care-givers, but more as nurses than doctors in the sense that they are being dictated how to provide this care, this love to their children.
Once again, the woman’s right is denied.
- Shouldn’t a woman be free to decide to have kids or not, without being shamed by society?
- If a woman decides to become a mother, should this choice happens at the expense of her happiness?
- Shouldn’t mothers be allowed to pursue dreams like anybody else?
What can women do to avoid feeling guilty for not being able to perform as wonder moms
Motherhood and parenting in general are indeed about love, sacrifices, and compromises to bring children in the world and guide them through adulthood. Our participants have been right on point in highlighting these parenting traits.
The world has changed and technological revolutions have allowed women to pursue in the same time professional careers and family life. So many boundaries have moved around, and yet it has become financially more difficult to raise children in single-income home. Women, either to fulfill their dreams or out-of-choice, are now more and more working-moms or full-time students while raisng children.
How to avoid being guilty? Some participants provide insightful steps to deal with this well-known parenting issues.
To Sara Lazare motherhood means, “to raise my children as best as I can so that they can be the best that they can be, filled with joyful memories.”
Mothers are humans, so all they can do is doing their best. Women have to accept that as human beings they are going to make mistakes along the parenting way. We have to accept these facts, learn and grow from our mistakes and transfer this wisdom to our children.
- How can you truly love others if you don’t learn to love yourself, take care of yourself?
- How can you truly forgive others if you don’t learn to forgive yourself and accept that you can make mistakes?