Maternal guilt

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Rotkirch , A & Janhunen , K 2009 , ' Maternal guilt ' , Evolutionary Psychology , vol. 8 , no. 1 , pp. 90-106 . < >

Title: Maternal guilt
Author: Rotkirch, Anna; Janhunen, Kristiina
Contributor organization: Department of Social Research (2010-2017)
Social Policy
Date: 2009
Language: eng
Number of pages: 16
Belongs to series: Evolutionary Psychology
ISSN: 1474-7049
Abstract: The recent emphasis on humans as cooperative breeders invites new research on human family dynamics. In this paper we look at maternal guilt as a consequence of conditional maternal investment. Solicited texts written by Finnish mothers with under school-aged children in 2007 (n = 63) described maternal emotions perceived as difficult and forbidden. Content analysis of guilt-inducing situations showed that guilt arose from diverging interest and negotiations between the mother and child (i.e., classic parent-offspring conflict). Also cultural expectations of extensive and perpetual high-quality maternal investment or the “motherhood myth” induced guilt in mothers. We argue that guilt plays an important role in maternal-investment regulation. Maternal guilt is predicted to vary with social and cultural context but also to show universal characteristics due to parent-offspring conflict and allomaternal manipulation. Results are preliminary and intended to stimulate research into the mechanisms, gender differences and cultural variations of guilt and other social emotions in human parenting.
Subject: motherhood
cooperative breeding
motherhood myth
human parenting
514 Sociology
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by_nc
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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