The Motherhood Mandate


Educational Affairs Office, American Psychological Association, 1200 Seventeenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20036.


The centrality of motherhood to the definition of the adult female is characterized in the form of a mandate which requires having at least two children and raising them well. The processes mandating motherhood are discussed. A direct attack on the motherhood mandate is seen as basic to eliminating sex-role stereotypes, mythologies, and sex-typed behavior. Given the social and cultural forces that propel women into motherhood — either by choice or by chance — a thorough analysis of the purpose of childbearing and childrearing in a changing society is basic to understanding persistence and change in sex-typed behavior.