No. 38




Motherhood and the Lifeworld of Mothers *

05 December 2018


RiTo No. 38, 2018

  • Tiiu Kuurme

    Associate Professor of Educational Sciences, Tallinn University

My goal in writing this article was to examine motherhood from the perspective of the expectations of the society, as well as the individual experiences of a woman and her lifeworld.

The public discourse on birth rate and motherhood has focused on the responsibilities associated with motherhood, and the problems with birth rate, not what motherhood entails for the personal life of a woman. The voice of mothers has been weak and their problems interpreted only in the economic light. The article starts with a discoursive summary of ideas on motherhood in international scientific literature from the point of view of the role, status, and identity of the mother. Next, we will look at how motherhood is reflected in the scientific publications and periodicals in Estonia of this century. After that, I will try to briefly describe what our students, that is the mothers and fathers of tomorrow, think about the advantages of being a man or a woman in our society. My starting point is the posit that the identity of a modern educated woman who is orientated towards social life can no longer hold motherhood as the overriding value, because all the studies, including those conducted here, attest to a distinctive orientation of young women towards self-realisation. If being a mother conforms to her other identities in her role image, and also is part of her self-realisation values, we have a hope of seeing more children. However, this is where the social stereotypes surrounding motherhood come into play, as the woman comes face to face with daily realities. The definitions of motherhood are conflicting in sociocultural patterns of meaning, ranging from pathos to strict rules and imposed responsibilities; generally speaking, the status of the role is low in the society, even as experienced by the women themselves. The statistics paint a clear picture of the attitudes and problems that mothers face, and of their voice and experiences not being valued by the society. Based on all this, I will try to draw some conclusions that could inspire policies on motherhood that might increase the willingness to be a mother in the society.

* Peer-reviewed article.