The matrifocal family occupies a curious position in anthropological writings, sometimes seen as a definite family structure based on a cultural valuing and centrality of the mother, and sometimes as a temporary or ad hoc response to poverty and exclusion.
-- Edited by Alan Barnard and Jonathan Spencer, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology, 1996
Therefore, we are not talking about matriarchal families in which mothers head the household, but rather matrifocal societies than emphasize the mother-child bond.
-- Venetria K. Patton, The Grasp That Reaches Beyond the Grave: The Ancestral Call in Black Women's Text, 2013
Matrifocal is a blend of the combining form of māter, Latin for "mother," and focal, "of or pertaining to a focus." It entered English in the mid-1900s in the context of cultural anthropology.