Retrospect and Prospect in the Psychological Study of Families

By James P. McHale; Wendy S. Grolnick | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Mothering:
Retrospect and Prospect
Wendy S. Grolnick
Suzanne T. Gurland
Clark University

In this volume of works on the family, it seems apt to begin with a chapter on mothers. In the history of rch on the family, for better or or the mother was the first and primary target of focus. To be sure, mothers are multifaceted and play multiple roles—they are women, partners, breadwinners, and caretakers, among other things, and much feminist writing has been devoted to how mothers manage their multiple roles and identities (e.g., Reddy, Roth, & Sheldon, 1994). In this chapter we keep within the spirit of the volume and focus on mothers as parents, highlighting how mothers parent their children. In doing so, we attempt to address questions such as: What do we know about “effective” mothering? What is the state of mothering today?


RETROSPECT SN THE STUDY OF MOTHERING

In thinking bout the history of research on mothering, we were struc by the paradox of two historical trends. The first was the ubiquitous emphasis in the in the clinical and early developmental literatures. It was all about mothrs. Mothers were the cause of all of children's problems.

The second trend, paradoxically, was the virtual absence of mothers from the parenting literature because parenting had become synonyous with mothering. Much of the “parenting” research from the 1930s to the

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