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Motherhood in Emmerdale

There’s been a motherly theme on Emmerdale recently, with several stories running parallel and demonstrating the different struggles of motherhood. We thought this might be an interesting topic to delve into! So here we have some of the most important motherhood stories on Emmerdale right now!

Moira and Matty

Matty and Moira sit side by side at a bus stop

Moira has struggled to accept her transgender son Matty, who used to be known as Hannah. Aside from the storyline raising awareness about the trans community, and Emmerdale casting the brilliant Ash Palmisciano who is a trans actor to play a trans role, which is a huge step forward for the show and soap, this storyline has served as an interesting character piece not only for Matty, but for Moira, who is still struggling with the death of her daughter Holly, the loss of her son Adam (who went on the run for a murder she committed), and coming to terms with being a mother to new baby Isaac who she didn’t know she was pregnant with until the birth.

Moira’s fears have been less to do with transphobia, (although common transphobic attitudes and beliefs have been challenged and countered through the ignorance and mistakes of her character, a move that has been praised by many), and more to do with another child she believed she had failed. It turned out Moira was upset that Matty hadn’t come home for Holly’s funeral, and seemed devastated that he hadn’t turned to her through his struggles.

With Cain at her side, and not forgetting Cain’s flamboyant mother Faith, Moira has started to build bridges with her son Matty, and we have witnessed the start of a beautiful new relationship between mother and son. In recent scenes with Matty and Isaac, the old Moira seems to have come back for fleeting moments, a happy, no-nonsense, fiercely loving mother, who dotes on her children and feels most at home when protecting and providing for them.

Moira clearly has a soft spot for her son, going easy on him, and supporting him through his farming mistakes, much to Cain’s disapproval! The first time Moira used the correct pronouns for Matty, we punched the air with joy, and we think that the framing of this story, with Moira acknowledging she has a lot to learn, and wanting to know how she can support and be there for Matty, seems like a step in the right direction.

In this storyline we get a heartwarming tale of a mother getting to know her son, with the added bonus of the audience being educated about the trans community through Matty. Not to mention Moira gets a bit of happiness at last. A win win situation we think!

Charity and Ryan

Ryan and Charity sit on a park bench

Another mother faced with an estranged son is Charity Dingle, who recently discovered that the child she believed had died in hospital (when she herself was just a teenager), had survived and was now in his late twenties.

The chemistry between Emma Atkins and James Moore pops on screen, and there is even a physical similarity between the two. Ryan has the Dingle look, and it seems that he also has a touch of the Dingle attitude, despite growing up with his adoptive mother.

Viewers are unsurprisingly rooting for Charity and Ryan to build a relationship. Charity is a fan favourite and Emmerdale legend, who with this recent storyline delving into her troubled past has become even more layered as her motivations and personality traits have been explained. Ryan is fast becoming a fan favourite himself, with actor James Moore developing an ever growing fan following online.

This mother and son bond, tentative, slow, with stops and stars, both parties assuming the worst and backing away for fear of being hurt, has been compelling viewing, and looks like the start of a beautiful relationship.

Charity’s relationship with Ryan seems to be impacting her relationships with her other children too. Charity has not always been the most reliable or stable mother, but she’s always loved her kids, and we’ve recently seen her step up to be a more dependable mother to her daughter Debbie, who is facing struggles of her own.

We believe Charity’s blossoming relationship with Ryan could well be the making of her, as well as her relationship with girlfriend Vanessa Woodfield, who seems to be bringing out sides to Charity the viewers haven’t seen before.

Debbie and Sarah

Debbie and Sarah sit at a table

Another Dingle mother having a rough time is Debbie Dingle, whose daughter Sarah Sugden is in hospital waiting for a heart transplant. Debbie hasn’t had much to smile about over the past few years. Two of her more recent struggles have been dealing with guilt from her accidental involvement in a horrific acid attack that harmed Ross Barton, and being deceived and betrayed by Tom Waterhouse - who turned out to be Joseph Tate - only to end up in a relationship with him soon after.

Debbie may not be the most cheerful of characters, which causes some viewers to hope for happier future storylines for the talented Charley Webb to tackle, but following her own unstable upbringing, Debbie’s become a mother that puts her kids first. Her priority in life is making sure Sarah and Jack Sugden (her children with Andy Sugden) live a more secure childhood than she did, and her mothering style can sometimes be more protective and strict than is necessary.

As Sarah’s condition has worsened, we’ve watched Debbie remain at her bedside and provide constant support, aided by Joe Tate who seems to be doing his bit to help the family in an attempt to atone for his past sins (fairly recent sins, but it’s soap, so we’ll let it pass!).

Debbie’s relationship with Sarah and Jack has always been one to watch because through it we’ve seen Debbie mature and rise to become the mother she would have wanted herself. There is no doubt that Charity and Debbie have an unbreakable bond, but sometimes their relationship can seem more like sisters or friends, which explains why Debbie takes a calmer, more strict attitude with her own children. Some call her grumpy, but what we see is a mother trying to do her best to provide stability, safety, and boundaries for her children. We only wish she would be allowed more fun with her adored kids in the future.

Chas and Margarita

Chas sits on the sofa with a hand on her stomach

Chas Dingle has often made mothering mistakes. We have witnessed her transformation with Aaron to become his brilliant, silly, embarrassing mum, and their close relationship is a joy to watch. So it is deeply upsetting that Chas, who has become such a wonderful mother, is now in the hideous and tragic situation of knowing that her unborn child won’t live long following her birth due to a kidney condition.

Our hearts ached for Chas, who at first seemed nervous about the idea of motherhood for a second time, after the early mistakes she made with Aaron, but overcame those to become excited at the idea of a new addition, full of ideas about how she would get things right this time round.

In the pattern of Dingle mothers, Chas has often been impulsive and hot-headed, perhaps not the most stable of mothers, but her love for Aaron, and also for unborn Margarita is both beautiful and harrowing to watch.

Lucy Pargeter has been stunning throughout this storyline, giving her performance great depth and care. A recent scene with Chas being comforted by her son Aaron was heartwarming and tragic at once, and truly demonstrated the journey Chas has been on as a mother. Aaron used to flinch away from her affection, so to see her son holding her in her misery was especially poignant.

We hope this storyline educates people about Margarita's condition, and the strain this can have on families.

Rebecca and Seb

Rebecca holding baby Sebastian

Rebecca White entered the village as an impulsive hippy ready to take jealous revenge on the family she believed had snubbed her, and aid Robert Sugden in his plans to bring the Whites down in retribution for their framing of his brother Andy.

Rebecca’s character has changed a lot during her short time in the village, something which has been criticised by some fans, many saying her original character has suffered and been changed significantly in order to facilitate the plots of the men around her. There have been many complaints of sexism from viewers in how Rebecca’s manipulative, impetuous, jealous and spiteful younger sister syndrome, and her determination to secure Robert Sugden at any cost, were erased following her pregnancy, during which she notably changed course and seemed to lose much of her original traits and spark. Brought in as a ‘soap bitch’ she turned into a character who was only allowed to talk about being pregnant, eating for two, and not being allowed to drink alcohol.

Bex White’s motherhood story has also been criticised as not focussing enough on her point of view, with many fans calling for an uplifting storyline of a young mother triumphing through brain injury and grief to raise her beloved son, instead of scenes of Rebecca used as a comedy barmaid or handing baby Sebastian over to his father Robert.

However, a notable change has arisen in the last week which has excited many viewers and fans of actress Emily Head. Now Rebecca’s murderous nephew Lachlan’s deeds are starting to come to light, Rebecca White has found herself in the midst of a gritty, terrifying storyline, where she must use her wits, resilience, manipulation, and love for her baby son Sebastian, to survive a horrifying kidnap ordeal.

Viewers are rooting for Rebecca to get some of her original spark and smarts back, and it looks like faced with evil Lachlan, Bex might just be turning into a fierce mother and seriously gutsy character.

Rebecca had already been held hostage by Lachlan, secured with restraints in a dirty lodge, for over a week when viewers discovered Lachlan hadn’t murdered his vulnerable aunt, but instead of crumbling, viewers noticed an inner strength reminiscent of Rebecca’s late sister Chrissie starting to emerge.

In this dreadful situation, the previously self-centred Rebecca has declined to see her baby son Sebastian, not wanting him involved, which she knows might mean she never sees the most important person in her life again. We have witnessed her pull herself together, be resourceful, be smart, and try to figure out a way to survive.

This positive change in Rebecca, which is being applauded by some fans, seems to have been brought about through her love for her son Seb, which appears to be what is keeping her alive through her ordeal. We think it would be nice going forward (should Rebecca survive her evil nephew) if Rebecca was given more point of view and narrative time for her bond with Sebastian and her unique position in the village as a young mother trying to navigate grief, a brain injury, and being the best mother she can possibly be.

Come on Emmerdale! Give the wonderful Emily Head the material she deserves, and allow Rebecca a proper motherhood story which can inspire viewers!

Chrissie and Lachlan

Chrissie stands in front of Lachlan

Next we have Chrissie and Lachlan. Many of you might think this is an odd choice considering Chrissie White has now passed away, killed by her son in a fit of anger when he steered the car she, Rebecca, and Lawrence were all inside into the path of a lorry.

Chrissie and Lachlan’s relationship was one of the most complex and compelling stories of motherhood in the show. In Chrissie we saw a lioness of a mother, fiercely protective, endlessly loyal, and constantly loving. Over the years we watched the White family, (starting all the way back in 2014!), we witnessed a mother that adored her son but shielded him from the consequences of his actions time and time again, who indulged and spoilt him, and fostered in him a sense of superiority, all of which seem to have played a part in the monstrous personality of Lachlan today.

We think their relationship is relevant to this list, as the moment Chrissie White died, Lachlan truly rose as a terrifying soap villain. Without his mother to cover his tracks, to fiercely protect him, to frame others in his stead, Lachlan has resorted to increasingly horrifying measures to keep his dark deeds from becoming known. Chrissie believed she was shielding Lachlan from the world, but all she, and the rest of the White family did, was create a monster with no accountability, with no concept of consequences, and an inability to take responsibility for his actions.

Poor Chrissie inadvertently played her part in the monster Lachlan has become, but it still hurt to hear Lachlan ask his restrained Aunt Bex if his mother loved him. Yes, Lachlan! Of course she did! And perhaps that fierce and unrelenting love was part of the problem!

Tracy Shankley

Frank and Tracy stand together

Following an unplanned pregnancy, Tracy recently made the decision to terminate, as she didn’t feel ready for a child, and wanted to be in a stable, happy relationship before taking that next step in her life.

We thought this deserved a special mention, as it is just important to emphasise that motherhood is about choice. Often in soap, we see many female characters with poor knowledge of their own bodies and pregnancy, which results in accidental babies, a strange lack of using the morning after pill, and much more. However, it felt empowering to see a character like Tracy proudly state that having a termination was the right choice for her, simply because she wasn’t ready. Tracy didn’t want to co-parent with David for the next eighteen years. She didn't want to be tied to him. She made an informed decision about her own life and body, and despite David’s whining since, Tracy Shankley - we salute you!


Are there any important motherhood stories we've missed? And what are your thoughts on these storylines? We'd love to know, so get in touch! If you enjoyed this post then share it online or give us feedback on twitter.

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