The Construction of Motherhood: Tasks, Relational Connection, and Gender Equality*


  • *

    The authors thank Arsineh Aararat, Jennifer Barton, and Patty Hoerner for their assistance on this project.

**Randi S. Cowdery is a PhD candidate at the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences, Loma Linda University, Griggs Hall, Loma Linda, CA 92350 ( Carmen Knudson-Martin is a Professor and Director of Doctoral Programes in the Department of Counseling and Family Sciences at Loma Linda University.


Abstract: This qualitative analysis of 50 couples explored how gender equality is related to the construction of motherhood in their day-to-day interactions. Results identified two models of mothering: (a) mothering as a gendered talent and (b) mothering as conscious collaboration. The first model perpetuated gender inequality through a recursive task-relationship cycle between mothers and children. More equal couples consciously collaborated to create a task-relationship spiral for fathers as well as mothers. Processes involved in each view of mothering were discussed relative to the distribution of parenting tasks. The findings suggest that families would benefit from education and clinical approaches that address gender and power, encourage open discussion regarding how child care choices are made, and develop new skills for both genders.