English summaries

Eija Sevón

Who is entitled to be a mother? Moral tensions in the narratives of Finnish single mothers by choice

Single mothers by choice are women who have consciously decided to have a child or children with assisted reproductive technologies or adoption independently. When the pathway to parenthood departs from the cultural moral order, tensions between ethical “good” and moral “right” occur. The present study applied a narrative approach and Taylor’s idea of moral-ethic division of the reflexive self to explore the narratives of Finnish women who identified themselves as single mothers by choice and the moral tensions that could be recognised from the ethical-moral reflections of their maternal identities. The data comprised accounts produced in 22 narrative interviews with self-identified single mothers. Three moral tensions could be found: responsible choice vs. risk for the child, juridical, social and psychological parenthood vs. genetic and biological parenthood and single motherhood vs. coupled parenthood. These moral tensions showed the social and cultural space for single mothers by choice, which is shaped by cultural solid norms related to, first, the ideal family conception based on the couple relationship, and second, the best interest of the child and the child’s well-being. Nonetheless, these women in their maternal narratives also consciously resisted these cultural and social norms and expanded and made visible diverse ways of family formation and mothering.

Lue lisää