In Consultation

In Consultation

The Motherhood Marathon: Acknowledging the challenge of modern childrearing

By Rick Hanson

March/April 2007

Q: I have clients who have been overwhelmed by motherhood. How can I help them with the challenges of raising a family today?

A: Three in four women will have a child, and most will say it's the most fulfilling thing they've ever done—and the most demanding.

Motherhood isn't, in itself, a psychological or medical problem. But the challenges inherent in childbearing and childrearing can lead to clinical consequences, with studies showing that mothers are more likely to have:

- depressive moods

- more stress than fathers or women not raising children

- frequent conflicts with their partner

- lower marital satisfaction

- health ailments ranging from fatigue and intensified PMS to nutritional deficits, type-II diabetes, thyroid disease, and autoimmune illnesses.

Parenthood affects men, too, but unless there's an adoption, women face unique physiological demands, and they typically do most of the childrearing and housework. The effects are exacerbated by the fast pace, chronic stress, and diminished social support of modern life, which are at odds with the hunter-gatherer template to which family-making is adapted.



Of course, a mother may have issues unrelated to being a parent, and these should be addressed in the ordinary course of therapy. But for those women who are having difficulty coping with the changes brought on by…

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