All On One Plate: Cultural Expectations on American Mothers

All On One Plate: Cultural Expectations on American Mothers

by Solveig Brown


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A must-read book about American Mothers!

In All On One Plate, anthropologist Solveig Brown talks to mothers who candidly acknowledge their vulnerabilities as a parent and graciously share the things they do that have made parenting, relationships, work, and life a little easier. Drawing on interviews, surveys, cultural analysis, and the latest academic research, Brown’s thoughtful exploration of the gamut of parenting experiences provides readers with a tremendous resource for figuring out their own solutions to issues that every parent deals with.

All On One Plate describes the diverse ways women strive to be a good mom as they balance working and parenting; negotiate the division of labor; give their children freedom while keeping them safe; manage screen time; curb entitlement; oversee their child’s nutrition and exercise while helping them maintain a positive body image; promote achievement; and raise good kids. With our high expectations for mothers, it is no wonder that most women in Brown’s study routinely felt pressure and guilt, and many sacrificed their sleep, exercise, or leisure time to manage everything on their plate. All On One Plate will prompt many conversations, and is relevant for all parents who have children at home.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557789211
Publisher: Paragon House Publishers
Publication date: 09/01/2016
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Solveig Brown, Ph.D. is an anthropologist who has done extensive research on American mothers. She has contributed to Stay at Home Mothers: An International Perspective; Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions of Modern Motherhood; and After the Happily Ever After: Empowering Women and Mothers in Relationships. Brown has presented her research to academic audiences and parent groups. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota with her family.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

Why Is it so Hard to be an American Mom? xiii

The Research for this Book xvii

Organization of this Book xviii

A Final Note xix

What is a Good Mom? 3

The Cultural Ideal of a "Good" Mother 5

Women's Personal Ideals for Being a Good Mother 7

Widescale Rejection of Cultural Ideals 9

Community Norms of Mothering 12

Pressure, Guilt, Judgment, and Connection 17

Why are mothers under so much pressure? 18

Social Comparisons and Competition 21

Guilt 24

Judging Mothers 26

Negative Cultural Stereotypes 30

The Best Thing about Being a Mother 31

The Rite of Passage for New Mothers 33

First Days and Weeks Postpartum 34

Postpartum Depression 35

Social Support 37

The Baby Fog 38

Attachment and Bonding 38

Postpartum Relationship Satisfaction 39

"It's your turn to put the kids to bed." 45

How Couples Negotiate the Division of Labor 48

Secrets of Couples Who Have an Egalitarian Division of Labor 52

Wanting Control and Having Higher Standards Means More

Work 55

Consumerism, the Work of Kinship, and Maternal Power 57

The "Life Load" 59

Cultural Conflict over the Limits of Combining Work and Motherhood 60

Factors that Influence a Woman's Choice about Combining Market and Family Labor 62

Daycare and Workplace Environments 63

Workplace Constraints 64

Positive and Negative Aspects of Staying Home with Children 66

Positive and Negative Aspects of Working Full Time 67

Positive and Negative Aspects of Being a Part-Time Working Mother 68

The "Mommy Wars" 70

Workplace Equity for Parents 72

Keeping Kids Safe 77

Living in a Risk Society 78

The Rise of Stranger Danger 83

Social Pressure to be Vigilant and the Things Mothers Worry About 86

Raising Healthy Kids 91

Cultural Changes in Food and Exercise Habits over the Last Generation 93

Food and Exercise 94

Sugar 95

A Mother's Body Image 97

Daughters' and Sons' Body Image 99

Overweight Children 101

Cultural Responses to Reducing Obesity 102

Buffer Mothers 105

Television and Computer Screen Time 107

Computer and Video Games 111

Cell Phones 114

Social Media 117

"I just shout 'No' a lot." 121

The Growth of the Children's Consumer Market 122

Children's Ability to Understand Ads / Effect of Ads 123

Government Regulation, Corporate Responsibility, and Parental Responsibility 124

Materialism 127

Strategies Mothers Use to Combat Materialism 130

The New Second Shift 137

Changes in Middle Class Parenting Norms 138

Lessons, Activities, and Sports 141

Academic Achievement 146

Raising Good Kids 153

Qualities Mothers Hope to Instill in their Children 154

Religion 155

Promoting Autonomy vs. Helicopter Parenting 158

Connected Autonomy 162

What makes a mother feel successful? 163

Where Do We Go from Here? 169

Revealing "Bright Spots" 170

Supporting the Work of Mothers 177

The Wisdom of American Mothers 177

Appendix 1 Research Methodology 181

Appendix 2 The Top Ten Attributes of an Ideal American Mother 185

Appendix 3 The Top Ten Attributes of Mothers' Personal View of a Good Mother 187

Endnotes 189

Index 229

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