Is there a Downside to Idealizing Motherhood?

For more great insights from licensed LDS therapist Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hank, check out "Is There a Mormon Burnout Epidemic?"

LDS doctrine teaches the vital importance of creating bodies for God’s spirit children and of raising children up in the Lord. None of us would be living if it weren’t for the sacred work of mothers. I personally am forever grateful to my mother, to be a mother to four children, and for the opportunity to teach them and learn from them. However, there is something about certain discussions regarding motherhood that leaves me feeling uneasy. We often pedestalize motherhood. We often idealize motherhood. We talk about how noble it is—how important it is. And it is…but there’s a point at which overemphasizing and pedestalizing motherhood and its importance backfires, creating division and distress instead of celebration.

Here are a few key ways that overemphasizing and idealizing motherhood can hurt us culturally, socially, and spiritually:

1) When we categorize women only or primarily in the sense of mother or not a mother, we may unintentionally pit women against each other and create a sense of separateness instead of connection and unity.

I have heard the heart-wrenching stories of women – married or single—who feel that they are on the outside of most Mormon social circles. In some way or another, (almost) all of us feel like we don’t belong; let’s not exacerbate this painful feeling by inadvertently categorizing ourselves based on our family status. Children or not, there is so much that women in the gospel have in common. We are all individuals, sisters, and we are trying our best to lead righteous lives and be close to the Lord.

2) When we idealize motherhood, we risk diminishing the worth and contributions and of women who do not have children.

Lead image from iStock

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