The last two decades have been marked by increased attention from scholars, policy makers, and the mass media to girls' needs and experiences. More recently, two developments have contributed to a gender focus that puts boys at the center of popular and academic discourse: recent school shootings and reactions to the research focusing on girls. As one of many attempts at refocusing academic and policy discourse on boys, a genre of books about raising boys has emerged. This study discusses three popular books on the gender ideologies of parenting, by Gurian (1997), Pollack (1998), and Kindlon and Thompson (1999). We find that the three books hold mothers to higher expectations and to more elaborate requirements than they hold fathers. The claimed risks to sons associated with mothers assume an overabundance of qualities that these authors argue mothers are expected to possess in moderate proportions. Moreover, women's internal/biological processes, such as temperament, are more likely to be blamed for bad mothering, while external/environmental processes tend to be blamed for bad fathering. This examination has implications for policy decisions, research fund allocations, the reconstitution of essentialist and patriarchal expectations held by the lay public, the scholarly work on mother‐blame, and the academic discourse on gender development.
Analyses of Social Issues & Public Policy – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2002