Positive Rituals for Motherhood: Pain Points and Practices for Maternal Well-Being
maternal mental health
Family, Life Course, and Society
Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Gender and Sexuality
Maternal and Child Health
Social Psychology and Interaction
Motherhood is both meaningful and arduous. The decades spent mothering bring with them stressors like decreased downtime, overload, high stress, fatigue, and more. As parenting takes priority, mothers often neglect their own needs for their child’s, negatively impacting their well-being. Today, many mothers in the United States face declining health and increasing burnout as a result. A variety of factors may be contributing to this: institutional invisibility, inequity, inflexibility, imbalance, isolation, and identity issues among them. Despite the multigenerational impact of a mother’s well-being, American culture and politics give comparatively little attention to the issue. In this paper, I propose that assets from positive psychology - delivered through ancient ritual practices - can benefit modern mothers. In a counterbalance to the stressors which threaten modern maternal well-being, rituals offer benefits to health, internal meaning-making processes, social connectedness, and emotion regulation. Integrating ritual practice into daily life requires three core elements – attention, intention, and repetition – paired with consideration of special time and spaces. Though insufficient to completely address the many forces working negatively against modern mothers, commitment to a ritual practice may help strengthen the aspects of day-to-day well-being that remain within a mother’s control.