The sociology of motherhood is a subbranch of sociology which studies gender role in society, with particular reference to the parental role of the mother.
In many cultures, especially traditional western, a mother is usually the wife in a married couple. Her role in the family is celebrated on Mother's Day. Mothers frequently have a very important role in raising offspring and the title can be given to a non-biological mother that fills this role. This is common in stepmothers (female married to biological father). In most family structures the mother is both a biological parent and a primary caregiver.
In East Asian and Western traditional families, fathers are the heads of the families, which means that his duties include providing financial support and making critical decisions, some of which must be obeyed without question by the rest of the family members.
As with cultural concepts of family, the specifics of a mother's role vary according to cultural mores. In what some sociologists term the "bourgeois family", which arose out of typical 16th- and 17th-century European households and is often considered the "traditional Western" structure, the father's role has been somewhat limited. In this family model the father acts as the economic support and sometimes disciplinarian of the family, while the mother or other female relative oversees most of the childrearing. This structure is reflected, for example, in societies which legislate "maternity leave" but do not have a corresponding "paternity leave."
However, this limited role has increasingly been called into question. Both feminist and masculists authors have decried such predetermined roles as unjust. A nascent fathers' rights movement seeks to increase the legal standing of fathers in everything from child-custody cases to the institution of paid paternity leave or family leave.
Mom, mommy, mama, and ma are some common or familiar words for a mother. Many times these terms denote affection or a maternal role in a child's life. The mother may only be the biological parent: "Anyone can be a mother, but it takes someone special to be a Mom." As such, someone can be a mother and not a mom, or a mom and not a mother.
In the case of a stepmother, a child calling that person "mom" indicates the child has finally accepted her in the loving parental role. A similar example would be a child who lacked contact with his or her own mother but became attached to another older female, such as a sister, grandmother, aunt, or close family friend, whom the person describes as "like a mother to me".
Described as 'the science of male parenting', the study of 'fathercraft' emerged principally in Britain and the USA (but also throughout Europe) in the 1920s. Were such a study to be conducted into the science of female parenting, it would be called mothercraft.
The words "Ma Ma" and "Mom", usually ragarded as terms of endearment directed towards a mother figure, are generally one of the first words a child speaks. While 'da da' or 'dad' often precede it, this does not reflect a stronger bond between the father and child than that of the mother and child, it is merely simpler to pronouce than "Mummy" or "Mum" which require greater control over the mouth muscles.
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