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Constructing Motherhood and Daughterhood Across the Lifespan

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Edited By Allison M. Alford and Michelle Miller-Day

Constructing Motherhood and Daughterhood Across the Lifespan explores the complex dynamics between mother and daughter over the lifespan. The editors believe that these vital family roles are socially and communicatively constructed, shaped, and molded as mothers and daughters navigate, respond to, and negotiate cultural and familial discourses. Aimed at undergraduate students, this timely book includes course activities and discussion questions in every chapter and a complete term syllabus to enhance a professor’s teaching, providing a smooth route for adoption as a course text. The book also builds on and contributes to the critical and theoretical research in family communication, media studies, and gender studies, delving into the nuanced communication surrounding motherhood and daughterhood in the United States.

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Chapter Three: Mothering and Motherhood: Socially Constructing the Role of Mothers (Allison M. Alford)

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CHAPTER THREE

Mothering AND Motherhood

Socially Constructing the Role of Mothers

ALLISON M. ALFORD*



Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother.

—ANONYMOUS

Like many little girls, I remember playing with my baby dolls—holding them, putting them to bed, feeding with a tiny spoon—as I pretended to be a mommy. These daydreams eventually came true, but the role of mother holds so much more meaning and responsibility than I ever could have imagined. For a girl, her nascent conception of all things maternal forms in childhood as she watches her own mother, her grandmother, mothers on television, and the mothers of her friends. Little girls are sponges for messages about adulthood, soaking up every drop of meaning in storybooks, community events, and commentary on motherhood that circulate throughout their childhood (Berger & Luckmann, 1966; Stryker & Burke, 2000; Walters, 1992). For instance, I was amused when I recently visited my sister’s family and spent some time with my three-year-old niece. She picked up a toy cell phone and said, “Cheese, Aunt Alli!”—so I posed for the faux pic. To my amusement, she then looked down at the “screen” and said, “I’m going to text it to Grammy.” How many times has she seen her mom (my sister) take a cute picture on the cell phone and then immediately text it to our mom? I’m still chuckling from...

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