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Mothers And Psychological Well-being

Women's psychological well-being is influenced by many factors including mothering performance. Mothers frequently assume the caretaker role in the family, which may increase the likelihood that they are attentive to, and thus possibly receivers of, emotions from other family members. In contrast to fathers' experiences, the emotions mothers experienced at their jobs did not foreshadow their emotional states at home in the evening (Larson and Richards 1994). This suggests either that mothers are more capable of compartmentalizing work and home (i.e. leaving work behind) than are fathers, or that the urgent tasks they must perform when they come home readily overwhelm what happened that day at work.

Mothers' psychological well-being, however, is more likely to be influenced by the daily routine of childrearing activities. Mothers report greater satisfaction with parenting than fathers, and they are more supportive than fathers of their children (Starrels 1994). At the same time, however, mothers of infants report higher levels of stress and anxiety when they evaluate their own performance as mothers than do their male counterparts (Arendell 2000). Compared with fathers, mothers are more involved with the responsibility for daily childcare, which exposes them to a wider range of disagreements and tension with their children (Hochschild 1989). David Almeida, Elaine Wethinton, and Amy Chandler (1999) found that mothers reported almost twice as many days of parental tension as fathers. The number of children in the household are also important predictors of family tension for mothers. Having more children in the household was associated with more mother-child tension (Almeida, Wethinton, and Chandler 1999).

Additionally, the extent of mother's child-care related stress level is frequently affected by the societal expectations for women to be "good mothers" (Villani 1997). Shari Thurner (1994) asserts that the contemporary "Good Mother" myth in Western society sets standards that are unattainable and self-denying. In Japan, Katsuko Makino (1988) also found the unrealistic expectations (on the part of society as a whole and mothers in particular) on what it means to be a good mother, and a mother's social isolation from the support networks are the major cause of maternal stress and anxiety.


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Additional topics

Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodMotherhood - Transition To Motherhood, Maternal Role In Childrearing, Extent And Effects Of Maternal Employment, Motherhood And Marital Quality