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Relevant TV Programme - Adoption

Relevant TV Programme - Adoption

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Relevant TV Programme - Adoption

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  1. Relevant TV Programme - Adoption • Finding Mum and Dad, Wednesday, 15th January, 10.00 pm, on Channel 4

  2. Transformations: Gender, Reproduction, and Contemporary Society Week 12: Timing Parenthood Dr. Maria do Mar Pereira

  3. Timing Parenthood – in this module! At what age would you like to have/adopt children? (%)

  4. Source:Live Births in England and Wales by Characteristics of Mother 1, 2010 Live births by age group of mother and father, England and Wales, 2010

  5. Some Recent Statistics Live births in England and Wales by characteristics of mother and father • In 2010, nearly half (48% ) of all babies born were to mothers aged 30 and over. • Nearly two-thirds (64%) of fathers were aged 30 and over (excluding births registered solely by the mother). • For first births, the standardised average age of mothers was 27.8 years in 2010. • In 2010, 84% of babies were registered by parents who were married, in a civil partnership or cohabiting. Source: Statistical bulletin: Live births in England and Wales

  6. Source: OECD Family Database: Age-specific profiles of fertility rates, 1970 – 2009 (Annual number of live births per 1,000 women of given age)

  7. Source: OECD Family Database:

  8. Timing of Parenthood as a Contested Social and Political Issue • Timing of parenthood is not purely an individual issue: it is shaped by developments and changes at the national and global level. • Timing of parenthood is shaped by, and shapes, many different dimensions of a society: norms of parenthood, conceptualisations of the self, of work and of children, gender and class inequalities, structure of the labour market, family and employment policies, national or global economic performance, political ideologies (namely about the relation between the state and families). • Because they are seen to reflect, and affect, all of these different social and political dimensions, the very significant changes in the timing of parenthood in the UK in recent decades have received significant public attention and been at the centre of moral panics.

  9. The “Problem” of Teenage Mothers • Framed as a social and moral problem • “A disadvantaged trajectory” (McDermott and Graham, 2005) • Misrepresentations • Statistics

  10. Conception Rate per Thousand Women Source: Conceptions in England and Wales, 2010

  11. Some Recent Statistics • The under 18 conception rate for 2010 is the lowest since 1969. • In 2010, the estimated number of conceptions to women aged under 18 declined by 9.5% from 2009. • In 2010, the estimated number of conceptions to girls aged under 16 decreased by 6.8% from 2009. • Conception rates in 2010 increased in all age groups, with the exception of women aged under 20. Source: Conceptions in England and Wales, 2010

  12. The “Problem” of Teenage Mothers • Framed as a social and moral problem • “A disadvantaged trajectory” (McDermott and Graham, 2005) • Misrepresentations • Statistics • Motivations (e.g. getting housing) • Capabilities • Relationship status (elision of teenage and single) • Health risks

  13. Women’s Experiences: Young Motherhood • Teenage mothers as competent, knowing and proud; but the object of regular stigmatising and discrimination, which needs to be managed on an ongoing basis • Youth framed as an advantage – a form of identity-work in the face of stigmatising discourses • “Resilient mothering” (McDermott and Graham, 2005)

  14. The “Problem” of “Older” Mothers • Growing media concern about women – especially middle-class, highly educated, professional women – having children ‘too late’ • Health risks • The public costs of infertility treatment • The social costs of a fertility decline and ageing population See also BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour (23 June, 2009):

  15. Women’s Experiences: Older Motherhood • Discrepancy between ideal (ideological) and lived experience (see also Choi et al 2005) • Fear of things going wrong (Carolan 2005): • Extensive reading • Health warnings • Loss of status / control / identity • Narratives of youthfulness • A “double-edged sword” (Shelton and Johnson 2006)

  16. Important Questions Raised by Dis-courses about “Leaving it Too Late” • The nature of “evidence” and statistics – data is contradictory and can be represented in more or less “frightening” ways (e.g. More or Less, 2013) • What are the “best” messages to give to women about older motherhood? Importance of education vs. the Negative impacts of anxiety and stress • Why are criticisms of late parenthood focused exclusively on women? • Age of men at birth of first child is higher • “Quality” of sperm • Sharing the “career hit” of parenting (Throsby in Womanºs Hour, 2009)

  17. Conclusions • The decision to become a mother (or try to become a mother) is dependent on a range of social and interpersonal factors, as well as biological capacities. It is a contested social and political issue. • Both younger and older mothers find themselves subject to negative stereotypes as a result of their perceived deviation from reproductive norms. • The women negotiate those norms in ways which simultaneously reinforce them and disrupt them. • The lived experiences of older and younger motherhood deviate substantially from the ideologically-driven representations of those experiences.