Anxiety and defensiveness as predictors of maternal child-centrism

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Maternal child-centrism is widely regarded in Western societies as the ideal of being a good mother. However, it has recently been criticized for the toll it takes on mothers. This study examines the widespread maternal practice of child-centrism. It is the first, to our knowledge, to examine predictors of the tendency towards child-centrism. Nowadays, with the social unwritten imperative to prioritize children's needs regardless of maternal standpoint, this study aims to focus and shed light on mothers and to explore which maternal characteristics predict maternal child-centrism. Self-reported questionnaires were completed by 320 Jewish-Israeli mothers, dealing with maternal child-centrism, maternal characteristics (i.e. attachment style, anxiety, defensiveness, and negative and positive affect), and socio-demographic context. The results of the Hierarchical Regression analysis revealed that stress-related maternal characteristics of anxiety and defensiveness predicted maternal child-centrism. These findings may imply that child-centrism serves as a mechanism for overcoming distress faced by mothers struggling with current Western societal norms. Its relationship to the feminist conceptualization of the Myth of Motherhood is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-348
Number of pages18
JournalFeminism and Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • anxiety
  • child-centrism
  • defensiveness
  • motherhood
  • women


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