“Thank God, I have a Separate Dwelling”: Restructuring Kinship through Grandmaternal Sidelining in the Heterosexual Families of Russian Natural-Parenting Mothers
The way mothers parent, and if and why they choose to do something, is significantly regulated by diverse discursive formations and social institutions, such as the state, medicine, law, rooted attitudes, and societal norms. What lies behind these regulations is the idea of a specific relatedness between mother and child – kinship. In this article, I analyse how natural parenting influences kinship and relatedness in the families of Russian mothers who practise it. Based on my original study, and inspired by Marilyn Strathern’s ideas, I show how natural parenting challenges the conventional Russian form of mothering, which is characterised as extended and socially integrated, and results in a certain nuclearisation of the families of self-identifying ‘natural mothers’. The nuclearisation implies the re-definition of the role of elder kinsfolk as secondary to the child, and pushes them to the margins of the Russian natural mothers’ children’s kinship systems. It is brought about by mothers who distance their own parents and who seek, in this way, to disrupt the flow of what they see as ‘old’ and ‘out-dated’, even harmful knowledge on childcare. However, this requires various significant resources from the mothers performing natural parenting.
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