What it means to “be a good mother” in the modern world?
Correspondent of Russian service bi-Bi-si Nina Nazarov discussed with the researcher that in modern society, is meant by “a good mother”, what is reproductive choice and why in the mother communities in the Internet, a lot of aggression.
At the end of may, published a book of the sociologist, doctorandi University of London Anna Shadrina “Dear children: fertility decline and the increase in “price” of motherhood in the twenty-first century.”
Bi-bi-si: What goals did you set in your study?
Anna Shadrina: In my book I tried to see what a modern standard of “good mother.” For this I followed maternal ideology has varied from decade to decade in the last hundred years.
From the time when maternal care was associated primarily with nursing and was considered to be important to refer to the rules of hygiene to combat the high infant mortality rates until now, when motherhood includes everything in the world.
Given that in Russia and other former Soviet States reduce state social support of families and high divorce rates, many mothers are actually left alone with all these problems and with the new standards of motherhood.
Bi-bi-si: it Turns out that in this age being a mother is the most difficult?
A. S.: Not quite: I’m talking about how complicated and multiplied the tasks and functions, but I’m not saying that motherhood was an easy job. For peasant women of the early twentieth century, the difficulty was in the one for women included in the global labor market in the XXI century, in another.
But I was trying to see what is the phenomenon of reproductive choice faced by the first post-Soviet generation. What does it mean to choose? Why many women have to postpone motherhood? Centuries delayed, and then in the 1990s began to postpone.
Bi-bi-si: And why?
A. S.: first, requirements for mothers are becoming more complex: today, they include knowledge of psychology and management, children’s early development. However, if we are talking about career-oriented women, they are dealing with increasing competition in the labour market.
Add to this the fragility of marriages and such an important element of the decision. If the woman until the mid XX century began to have sex with a man and was healthy, it automatically at some time been pregnant and she didn’t have to take any decision, because this decision was made before her by generations of her family, taken at the level of institutions. The woman did not have to think, to become a mother or not, she became it anyway.
Generations that entered the reproductive age in the 1990s, when mass access came to contraception, which coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the reduction of social support, which allowed Soviet women to combine work and motherhood, we must think about now, “And when? 20 or 30? Maybe first finish the masters? Maybe you see the world? And I want to be married?” Circumstances are many, and ready-made forms no decision — the woman herself must accept it, starting from its inner truth.
I cite in the book of statistics that the generation that entered the reproductive ages during the transition period, it is expected 18% of childless women.
Moreover, the phase delay, as shown by some researcher, may be a legitimate way of failure.
Childlessness is still in the former Soviet Union stigmatized, and many women say “I don’t want to be a mother” is tantamount to social suicide. And, I feel that postponing for some women can also be a way to care and stigma, and the choice in favor of childbirth.
Bi-bi-si: What factors are most important: economic or psychological?
A. S.: it Depends on the optics we use. There are optics in sociology, and she is looking at, roughly speaking, in the society the money is distributed.
There is a psychological optics, which looks at the internal processes of man. But in fact, many psychological problems related to the economy.
NewsScientists have explained why women are not seeking to give birth earlier
For example, we often hear about new challenges that had not been articulated, such as depression or anxiety. Often, both due to the fact that the world is becoming increasingly fragile and unstable.
For example, I’m writing a thesis at the University of London and every day I communicate with people who before protection think, where they get a job, and the answer often lies on the surface, nowhere. Not because people write bad thesis, and because few jobs.
Until 1990, the year my mother with such problem did not face — there was no Soviet unemployment, but never had the opportunity to compete for a job, for example, in Britain.
I agree with the sociologist Elena Gapova that says that most women want to have children, but they want to give birth at a convenient time, in the right circumstances. For someone favorable circumstances — a mother is able to help with grandchildren, for others, the partnership, for someone — an opportunity not to interrupt a career. This is purely individually.
But today compared to the 1970-ies, when were born my generation, the situation is connected with big risks. And if I don’t get a job, theoretically, I can finish on the street and starve to death. My mom could not finish on the street, and I’m quite a can.
“The grandmother is the need, which comes in handy social system”
Bi-bi-si: You write in the book that in the Soviet Union as the partner of the mother was to comply with the state guaranteeing social security and providing affordable kindergartens, and post-Soviet Russia this system was canceled and tried to push the role of the Patriarch and breadwinner for men, but men with a not take it in a hurry. It turns out that the role of the Patriarch in society now vacant?
A. S.: There is a book by sociologist Jennifer Loss “Women Without Men: Single Mothers and Family Change in the New Russia” (“Women without men: single Mothers and family revolution in the new Russia”), which shows that the vacant role of the Patriarch in the post-Soviet space is picked up by the grandparents.
In particular, early retirement for women at 55 years profitable throughout the public system because women are prepared for the fact that she had come out of an active social role and come into the family of their children, to babysit grandchildren.
Jennifer Loss said that in the West, where grandma, much less included in the care of children and the state if it is not Sweden, not too provides social support, men have nowhere to go, they are included, involved father is stronger. On the other hand, there has not been such a massive loss of male population during the war, and it did not affect as gender ideology.
In General, it is interesting to think that in Russia everything is so harmoniously arranged that if a woman has a mother, she has, in General, have a partner in raising children. And it’s interesting to dream up what would happen if the Western norm of “successful aging” will come to Russia older women prefer to care for themselves and to travel, who will remain with their mothers? And will it be able to push men to engage in emotional work?
On the one hand it’s good that grandma’s help, and on the other, my grandmother did not contribute to the fact that men participated more.
Bi-bi-si: But do not contribute it is not in virtue of the fact that just do not want?
A. S.: Yes, not because I don’t want. They come to help their daughters, because many have no other alternative. Not everyone can afford to hire a nanny, not everyone has the opportunity to identify children in kindergarten, so the grandmother is the need, which is very useful social system.
The norm of motherhood and “babushkovska” very strong in the post-Soviet world.
Now I was doing interviews with older women and found that for a woman to be a grandmother as dramatically important as maternal identity.
If the woman was 60 or 70 years old, no grandchildren, she would apologize just as 30-year-old or 37-year-old post-Soviet woman who had no children. She will apologetically say something like “I really wanted to, but I can’t, but I here this and that do.” Because this is a very big stigma with not being a mother and being a grandmother in our part of the world.
Bi-bi-si: it Turns out that reproductive pressures that complain modern a 30-year, extend to thirty years ahead?
A. S.: Yes, and it explains how the system of reproduction in the post-Soviet world. When a woman needs to become a grandmother, she begins to “compress” my daughter, so that she will become a mother. Then both will be able to avoid stigma.
This explains why the young generation is suffering from reproductive coercion — as the mother of the older generation care about us, and about yourself. “You’re a mother, and I become a grandmother, leave us alone, I can help you with grandchildren and be able to die knowing that you fulfilled his mission on earth.”
“Just a mother”
Bi-bi-si: While in the Russian Internet now is a strong discourse of derision mothers, saying that it is ridiculous women who speak bird language words like “godovik” and “togethera”. How you as a sociologist can comment on it?
A. S.: Yes, I just last week read the giant post popular blogersha about how all moms in the environment around her mothers side, who are sitting in the sandbox. And there were a billion comments, “God, yeah, I don’t want to be associated with these terrible women in greasy coats.”
I thought: I wonder if all mothers distanciruemsa from people in the sandbox who are sandbox then remains? It is also associated with the class question, in my opinion.
In fact, who is this metaphorical woman excluded? It’s a woman, which is not included in the capitalist system. Through this distancing from the sandbox manifests the essence of stigmatizing maternal ideology.
On the one hand, women struggling to encourage, so that they bore, on the other hand, if you’re “just a mom”, you all others will turn away because you don’t produce anything exchange. You’re doing the most important job on earth, grow a new person, but since you are not making money, your social capital is not something that is not growing, it is declining.
Modern symbolic capital of motherhood is very specific. Becoming a mother, the woman receives the respect and support of the family, but in the public space, as we see for example with the sandbox, a mother’s job is not prestigious. Much more prestigious to be held in the profession personality.
It was said in the film “Once twenty years later” in 1980.
Remember, heroine gundarevoj 11 children, and her TV presenter said: “Well, to be a mother, it is the duty of every woman. And what you have in life? Here’s your classmate Lena, for example, became an astronaut”.
Today, if a woman is just a mother, she will be shunned. And isn’t it strange? What is the mass trance that forces mothers to humiliate the other mothers?
Bi-bi-si: at the same time think ourselves the parent community are often extremely aggressive, even if we are not talking about vaccinations, and about some not too significant things. Why is it so everywhere?
A. S.: I Have a colleague who writes a thesis about breastfeeding, and judging from her stories, it’s everywhere. And looks a billion.
Newsthe Birth of children alters the brain
When at the beginning of the last century it was necessary to deprive rural women of the child and place it in kindergarten, to get her to go to the factory, and it was discussed that socialization at an early age is great. Then, when kindergartens have any interruptions and it was necessary that women took home the children said that no, socialization and collectivization is terrible, the mother must stay with your child until the age of three. And why three years? Not to open nursery.
Ideology in relation to the nurturing of children is always associated with the social support system. British sociologist Simon Duncan conducted a study on how women belonging to different social groups explain their choice — give the child to the garden or to leave work. He came to the conclusion that everything depends on the economy of the family. If for women the only way to survive is to continue to work and have the opportunity to send their children to the garden, she will rationalize that this is fine for a child, and will Express it in terms of moral choice.
It’s never about what is really good for children — because children are all different and can not be a universal solution. What is in access of women, it protects.
Maybe aggression occurs because, when there are many options, there is always a concern — if the choice is wrong?
When I spoke to their books with their mothers, I have not met one woman who has not experienced guilt.
Mothers are always comparing themselves with others: “Oh, we’re too little to walk outdoors,” “Oh, we late talking”, “Oh, we lag behind other children.”
Perhaps aggression is a defence against the anxiety associated with the responsibility for the choices actually limited by individual capabilities.
“The language of children’s injuries”
Bi-bi-si: Another important idea of the book when the current generation of 30-year-old makes the parents claim for their children’s psychological trauma, they talk from the inside of the system that their parents did not know they existed outside of it.
A. S.: Yes, and children existed outside of it. Our “childhood trauma” is understood after the fact. I’m not trying to say that no trauma or that it was not women who hurt their families. We do each other regularly injuring, any communication with us seems to be changing. But with the advent of the culture of psychotherapy trauma not only treated, but also occurs.
The language of psychotherapy is accepted by society for granted. A assistant practices, advertising their services today, explain “how the world works”. But, in fact, is the language spoken by neoliberalism. The ideology of capitalism, which not only explains the modern personality, but also creates it.
Today everything is explained in terms of an injury, any discomfort. Any policy can be easily explained by the noble goal of preventing child injury. In the context of trivial interpretations of psychoanalysis in trauma is to blame one person — the mother.
The Russian space now appear in the texts that if the mother will not be 24 hours a day, emotionally available, the child will grow up flawed man with a crippled psyche. Using the language of children’s injuries, we make claims for our mothers because it is difficult for us to make the market a reality.
Now all social institutions have changed, become fragile, very difficult to navigate and anticipate the future. For example, I don’t know what will happen to me after two years. And, of course, the easiest way to say what I’m going through psychological trauma because the mother did something wrong. But my mother, for example, could not predict that I will have to be integrated into advanced capitalism, she got me prepared for a reality in which she was nurtured.
The pathos of my posts that women as they could, and cared for. But today, new tools of control and discipline, and they are applied after the fact to the generation of Soviet mothers. Unfair, in my opinion. It is implied that life could be without pain, that it is possible to nurture a person who is free from any discomfort. But this is a utopian idea.
Bi-bi-si: the end of the book anyway, it seems that motherhood in modern conditions — something heavy and bleak.
A. S.: Perhaps you have had a feeling because in the last Chapter I’m talking about the choice to have or not to have children, and the choice is a difficult thing. And I set a goal to minimize its influence on the choice of those people who will be my book to read. I left the ending open because close to life: this choice each and every will have to do yourself.
Bi-bi-si: as a kind of saving alternative to on the last page of the book appears the term “feminist motherhood”. What is it and why do you write about it only in passing?
A. S.: I didn’t mean in detail, to touch upon the practices of motherhood, that was not the impression that I’m telling women how to raise children. I don’t have that right. But the idea of feminist motherhood, I think, borrowed from Donald Winnicott with the term “good enough mother”. This idea of the return of the mothers of dignity and feeling that they are doing everything right.
I see a lot of talk on social networks on the topic “I’m a good enough mom, I’m doing everything I can.” I see that this method of setting the boundaries between the real woman and the toxic standard of “good mother.”
It is impossible from one person to demand just as it is impossible to compete with people from other social groups. You watched the TV series “Big little lies”? It shows the most successful mother on planet Earth, and they too have problems. This episode, among other things, demonstrates that the “good mother” to be impossible: whatever you do, there will always be a way to blame yourself that you have something unfinished, distracted by work, love or something else.
The standard of “good mother” to resist is extremely difficult, and I think it is very important that the idea of “good enough mother” unites women in the sympathy and support of each other.