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Invisible Labor: Valuing the Unseen Contributions of Mormon Women

Invisible Labor: Valuing the Unseen Contributions of Mormon Women

Several months ago, a family member recounted a small but powerful scenario that happened in her Sacrament Meeting. While conducting the meeting, the bishop acknowledged that one of his counselors was not present on the stand; his counselor’s wife was ill and he was sitting in the pews with his children. Interestingly, not once was the man’s spouse acknowledged for sitting alone with her children week after week while her husband sat on the stand. Why? Because women are expected to perform the bulk of the invisible labor required for maintaining relationships.

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Our Definition of “Good Mothering” is Bad For Mental Health

Our Definition of “Good Mothering” is Bad For Mental Health

Families are central to Mormonism, and creating eternal families through making and keeping covenants with the Savior is at the core of our work here on earth. However, it seems that primarily mothers, are talked about as the heart, or the center, of the families. Preparing to be a “good mother” is emphasized in Primary, Young Women’s, and continues as a central thread woven throughout Relief Society lessons and discussions.

When we speak of “good mothers” in church, we often hear stories of mothers’ great sacrifices (like a pioneer women burying a child along the trail West), frequent heartache and long-suffering (Elder Holland’s talk ‘Behold Thy Mother’), and the great joys, blessings, and the eternal significance of mothers. These themes echo family research that highlights a paradox of parenting — it is considered to be one of the most rewarding aspects of life while simultaneously being associated with increased stress, dissatisfaction, and even depression.

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