A1 Journal article (refereed)
“I feel many contradictory emotions” : Finnish mothers' discursive struggles with motherhood (2022)

Raudasoja, M., Sorkkila, M., Laitila, A., & Aunola, K. (2022). “I feel many contradictory emotions” : Finnish mothers' discursive struggles with motherhood. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 84(3), 752-772. https://doi.org/10.1111/jomf.12828

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsRaudasoja, Mirjam; Sorkkila, Matilda; Laitila, Aarno; Aunola, Kaisa

Journal or seriesJournal of Marriage and the Family



Publication year2022

Publication date16/02/2022


Issue number3

Pages range752-772


Publication countryUnited States

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessPartially open access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/79866


The aim of the study was to facilitate the understanding and interpretation of multiple aspects of working with mothers by examining Finnish mothers' mothering discourses and the interplay among these discourses.

According to relational dialectics theory, discourses are systems of meaning that are coproduced in interaction. Although discursive research on motherhood has identified various discourses, research on the interplay among competing motherhood discourses is in its infancy.

Qualitative questionnaire data from 479 Finnish mothers of infants were analyzed using contrapuntal analysis. Mothers' responses to three open-ended questions were analyzed inductively. Emerging themes were identified so as to represent different motherhood discourses, and the power struggle among discourses was addressed.

Four discourses were identified. In the Equality discourse, parenting was presented as ideally shared between co-parents, and equality between family members and various family forms was promoted. In the Familistic discourse, traditional stay-at-home mothering, good housekeeping, and the unity of the family were emphasized. In the Intensive Mothering discourse, the importance of the mother to her child was highlighted. In the Balance discourse, the needs of all family members were presented as equally important, and flexibility in parenting choices was promoted. The results demonstrated discursive struggles within mothers' answers, suggesting that contemporary Finnish motherhood is a contested terrain of competing ideologies.

The findings suggest that Finnish mothers' mothering discourses are multivocal and often competing. The results contribute to the current understanding of motherhood ideologies and provide new insights to be utilized in counseling and clinical practice.

Keywordsfamiliesfamilies with childrenfamily lifegendergender rolesmothersmaternityparentsparenthoodconversationidealsdiscourse analysis

Free keywordsfamilies; gender roles; motherhood; mothers; parenting; qualitative methodology

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Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2022

JUFO rating3

Last updated on 2024-15-06 at 00:25