When is the Right Time for Motherhood? by seNlo20V

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									When is the Right Time for
     Motherhood?
         Spring term
            Wk 1



                             1
        Aims of the lecture
• How is age used to define who is fit
  to be a mother?
• What is the significance of the
  narrowing time-frame of acceptable
  motherhood for women who lie on
  the margins of it?

                                         2
        Areas for discussion
• assumptions about teenage mothers
  and older mothers
• teenage mothers
• older mothers
• cultural narratives of appropriately
  timed motherhood

                                         3
            Introduction
• Growing concern over the rise in the
  average age of mothers
• Pregnancies in women over 35
  increasing
• In 2003 fertility rate for women 35-
  39 and over 40 increased by more
  than 7%
                                         4
   Headlines about older women in
              the media

• Older mothers 'epidemic' a
  danger to health, doctors warn
  women
• Doctors warn women not to put
  their careers before having
  children - they may live to regret
  it
                                       5
  Headlines about teenage mothers
• Teenage mothers see pregnancy as ‘career
  move’ (Independent, 2006)
• Rap music blamed for teen pregnancy
  (Mail, 2005)
• The case for forcing birth control on unfit
  mothers (Sunday Times, November 9,
  2008)
• Bristol teens to get contraceptive
  injections (Bristol News, November 2008)
                                           6
          The case of baby P
• ‘This is a story about a 17-year-old girl
  who had no idea how to bring up a
  child’ (David Cameron)
• Young mothers irresponsible, unfit to
  raise children
• Teenage pregnancy target of social policy
  aiming to halve the under-18 conception
  rate
                                              7
Teen Pregnancy, Young Mothers and Govt Policy

 • Teenage mother is the new archetype of
   parental inadequacy
 • New Labour’s Teenage Pregnancy
   Strategy stretches ‘problem pregnancies’
   from under 16 to under 18
 • Policy shift from concern for the
   teenager to concern for the baby
 • Incapable as a parent even if planned
   pregnancy
                                          8
         Government Policy
• Helped create a presumption that all
  those under the age of 20 are incapable
  of adequately caring for a child
• Need intensive support from health and
  parenting professionals
• This mythologising (or pathologising)
  occurs despite comprehensive evidence
  that teenage mothers do no worse for
  their children than any other parents

                                            9
           Caring for a child
• Caring for a child now a measurable skill
  of ‘parenting’
• Even oldest teenagers seen as ‘feral and
  a danger to society’ by 49 per cent of
  adults (Barnardo’s survey)
• Presumption in society that teenagers
  threatening rather than nurturing to
  offspring
                                              10
Compulsory contraceptive orders?
• For those deemed unfit for motherhood
• Any babies born to be removed
• Minette Marrin (Sunday Times) argues that
  parents should have,
• ‘incentives not to have more than two
  children; after two, benefits would be
  withdrawn and larger housing could be
  withheld’... these rules should also apply to
  parents ‘who are not so obviously unfit, but
  still bad enough to do serious harm’.

                                                  11
     Young Mother’s Own Responses

• The idea that teenage pregnancy is a social
  problem is common within British society
• According to a recent literature search, most
  young mothers report feeling stigmatised
• The young women report that many people
  assume they cannot be good mothers
• Research on teenage mothers has shown that
  they are resisting social stigmatisation

                                                  12
   Resisting social stigmatisation
• Kirkman et al call this process ‘re-
  authoring their lives’
• Young mothers construct and maintain
  positive social identities
• Emphasise the benefits of mothering
  early and the pleasures of becoming a
  mother
• Canonical and autobiographical
                                          13
   Resisting social stigmatisation
• Phoenix found young mothers subscribe to
  discourses that suited their particular
  circumstances
• Distanced themselves from the category
  ‘teenage mothers’
• Defended themselves against the negative
  assumptions associated with it


                                             14
  Constructing alternative stories
• Difficult because of the pervasiveness of
  the dominant discourse and the
  investment of others in this discourse




                                          15
            Older mothers
• Medical and psychological literature
  discussions about later mothering are
  characterised by a problem-centred
  approach
• Risks for mother and foetus
• Birth complications
• Potential abnormalities
• Attitude that women are ‘past it’ and
  needy
                                          16
  Discourse of ‘right time’ - Berryman
• Dominant discourse similar to that which
  defines teenage mothers as too young
• Decision delayed because of concerns about
  financial security rather than career
• Older mothers had different parenting
  techniques
• Parenting a positive experience
• More committed to motherhood
                                               17
  Assumptions and stigmatisation
• Campion identifies assumptions underlying
  stigma faced by older mothers
• That mothers responsible for producing
  healthy babies
• Menopausal women should not be having sex
• Age gap unfair on children
• Older women plan babies around career
  moves
                                          18
  Cultural narratives of appropriately
          timed motherhood
• Mothers make their decisions to have children
  surrounded by normative narratives of
  appropriately timed motherhood
• Prescribe a very narrow time-frame when it is
  acceptable for women to have children
• Distinction between right age and right
  moment
• Complicates idea of ‘right time’
                                              19
               Conclusions

• Cultural narratives narrow the acceptable
  time-frame for motherhood
• Affect how mothers come to view
  themselves as mothers and how they make
  sense of their experiences
• Stigmatisation, resistance and idea of ‘right
  time’
• Differences between younger and older
  mothers are based as much on class location
  as on their biological age
                                              20

								
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