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Discourses of Motherhood

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Assignment 1

Jerod Bartnik

CNPS 364 – Family Education and Consultation


May 21, 15

Literature Review

        Due to the difficulty of data collection in studies such as this, the research is predominantly retrospective, and majority of the data comes in as surveys. Most popularly the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) by Parker (1979). Using this tool psychologists were able to conduct more and more specific studies to truly understand the relationship in disordered eating and parental care. Berger (1995), Yamaguchi (2000), and Rhodes & Kroger (1992) all focused on eating disorders (ED) in general, analyzing different effects of maternal and paternal care on patients who had developed ED.

        A second group of studies focused on the parental bonding with patients who suffered from anorexia nervosa specifically, they found that patients with anorexia nervosa disordered eating behaviors correlated to low maternal care and high maternal control. The father also plays a large role, as paternal inadequacy is also a large factor for precursors to anorexia nervosa. The next grouping of studies were focused on the relationship between parental bonding and bulimia nervosa. Most of the studies in this area focused on these two subsets of eating disorders, as they are most popular in North American culture.  The most recent studies looked at the link between the fathers lack of psychological control and adverse life events for the young and their relationship to ED (Jauregui Lobera & Bolanos Rios & Garrido Casals, 2011).


The study’s main purpose was to analyze the bonding profile in ED patients (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011). While also looking at the relationship among different styles of parental bonding and psychological variables. Several different scales and measurements were taken in the presence of a psychologist and the data was analyzed from there.

        The first finding interestingly supported that there was no difference in the youth’s perception of their parenting in the first 16 years of their lives; both parents were rated very similarly by almost all of the participants (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011). The study also showed that an authoritative approach to parenting is most effective in the early years, this approach incorporated being warm, involved, while having disciplinary methods (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011). As previous studies have concluded, the stereotypical parental style that leads to ED is the low care and high control relationship during the first 16 years. Also the neglectful parental style is largely responsible for causing ED symptoms such as drive for thinness, body dissatisfaction, and bulimia (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011).

Discourse of Motherhood

The discourse of motherhood appears at several occasions throughout this article.  Being a mother is technically the oldest profession that exists, and it has been done in so many different ways that it can be confidently said that there is no right way to do it. Current mothers are told that they need to be perfect and that the flaws in their children are a reflection of the way they were raised. One of the examples that appeared in the article was that mothers should decrease their role in the parenting scheme, and decrease overprotection (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011). As a mother does this though, its often portrayed as not caring enough, and the negative stigma continues as the mother is said to have not been present enough in the child’s life to prevent an ED. Mothers today are seeking perfection, and are told that everything and anything are dangerous for their children. It causes these forms of overprotection, which is proved can lead to ED.  These discourses have created myths that have caused mothers to feel guilty and responsible when their children are not 100% perfect.  Anorexic patients often said that their perception of their parents is absolutely caring, which as I discussed early is also coupled with overprotection.  An additional example of this discourse found in the article was the author discussing the changes in women’s occupations since the 1950’s and how the increase work has related to developing a weaker bond between mother and child (Jauregui Lobera et al, 2011). If anything this encourages women to stay home and not work, to increase sacrifice, which in the complete wrong message in many cases.

Challenging the Authors Claims

Although the article has covered many precursors and issues regarding parental styles and ED, there are still other factors that affect the development of ED’s and shouldn’t be blamed on parental style. For example, if the child is in a sporting environment that requires an aesthetic component such as gymnastics or ice-skating they are more likely to develop an eating disorder. Some of these athletes manage their weight to appease coaches, judges, or teammates/peers, and it is the culture that surrounds the sport that causes this. Other sports such as swimming or volleyball have the same effect due to the nature of the clothing that is worn during competition.



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