Research Alert


The population of working mothers has greatly increased over the past few decades, yet cultural norms and standards for women have not progressed at the same rate. Intensive mothering ideals set expectations for mothers that recruit them into inequitable parental partnerships and create challenges for their well-being, health, and relational fitness. This phenomenological study attempted to describe the experiences of 15 working mothers working in a United States cultural context that supports an intensive mothering ideology. The themes uncovered included: a) Personal Experience of Motherhood as Discrepant from “Ideal” Motherhood, b) The Juggling Act Leading to Motherhood Overload, c) Inequitable Motherhood Load and Double Standard Based on Gender, and d) Physical and Emotional Consequences of Deferring Own Needs. Implications for practice include utilizing feminist approaches with clients, working to lessen the impact of intensive mothering expectations for mothers and their families, and working to establish a more equitable parental partnership.


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Journal of Feminist Family Therapy