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Parenting in England 1760-1830Emotion, Identity, and Generation$
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Joanne Bailey

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565191

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565191.001.0001

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Selfhood and Being a Parent: Cultural Conventions, Tensions, and Complexities

Selfhood and Being a Parent: Cultural Conventions, Tensions, and Complexities

(p.144) 6 Selfhood and Being a Parent: Cultural Conventions, Tensions, and Complexities
Parenting in England 1760-1830

Joanne Bailey

Oxford University Press

This chapter reveals that the experience of parenting influenced personal identities. The way that people discussed them was shaped by available cultural languages, specific events and circumstances and life‐cycle. The components of parenthood that featured regularly in the formation of parental identity were provision, tenderness, instruction, anxiety, distress, grief and self‐sacrifice. People also saw their parental role as contributing to their subjectivity and therefore a child's death undermined, overwhelmed, or destroyed some parents’ sense of selves. Diversity and complexity marked parental identity, which did not map onto simplistic pictures of gender constructions. The parental ‘self’ also varied across the life‐course because it was forged in response to particular events, emotions, and moments of crisis and thus could alter according to the age of parent, age of child, or a different relationship with each child. Tensions emerged in parents’ identities as people attempted to reconcile their parental experiences with ideals.

Keywords:   parenting, parenthood, child, personal identity, subjectivity, self, life‐course, gender, emotions, tensions

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