The social norms of baby making

In a blog on Everyday Sociology Sally Raskoff discusses from a sociological view, some reasons for the mass public outrage at Nadya Suleman. This was very interesting to me because from the moment I heard about this soap opera I have been waiting to hear some view point that made me sympathize with her. Until today everything I’ve heard about her, including the things that come out of her own mouth have led me to believe that she is insane.  Raskoff brings to light some interesting points about why the public has chosen to scrutinize this womans every move, and how that scrutiny portrays our societies views of traditional motherhood.

When social norms are broken there is always some sort of reprimanding that takes place, whether it is the formal kind that involves police and courts, or simply an informal shunning of the deviant within society. These days Nadya Suleman is no doubt experiencing the backlash of her choices. While I don’t agree with living off of disability and spending tons of money to become pregnant, which ultimately brings more financial burden onto the welfare programs in our country, I can’t help but wonder if the publics negative view of Miss Suleman actually stems from that reasoning, or if there is a more ingrained explanation.

Motherhood has its own social norms just like everything else. Some of these norms may be a little more out dated than others however. The first things we as a public wanted to know when this story broke was who is the father?, how long did she try to get pregnant?, Is she married?, Why did she try to get pregnant again after already having 6 children?, How will she support these kids?. I admit that those were the very questions that popped into my mind when first hearing this woman’s story.

After thinking about Raskoff’s blog and the way I automatically made assumptions about how Suleman’s life should look in order for her to legitimately bring children into this world, I started questioning some of that reasoning. Why was I viewing her as such an irresponsible person? Was it really because she was on disability, and because she had an unsafe multiple embryo implantation? Or was it more about the the ways in which she differed from the traditional picture of motherhood? Had my social conditioning villainized this woman for choosing to have children without the help of a man and beyond the usual number of 2.5 per household? Was my problem, and everyones else’s for that matter, really with her lack of financial stability?


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