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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Motherhood is a transformative experience for many women, bringing new dependency and the direct experience of the relational self. Relational autonomy theory understands how input from others is part of the capacity to make autonomous choices. With such interconnection, however, come vulnerability and particularly the risk of identity trapped by others’ outdated or problematic expectations. At the same time, children with strong bonds with their mothers may also develop their own expanded relational connections that distribute the opportunities and responsibilities for creating the child’s identity. Recognition and enhancement of these relational structures and norms can, in turn, help mothers avoid the feeling that motherhood requires complete self-sacrifice of their own interests and identities. The chapter concludes by exploring approaches to relational support of childrearing and how they might be structured effectively and fairly.

Keywords: motherhood, relational autonomy, mother, self, transformative experience, feminist theory

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