The trend toward increasingly intensive mothering was accelerated in the 1990s with a focus in child-rearing advice on maximizing children's brain development through ample and appropriate stimulation in the early years. Based on in-depth semi-structured interviews this study examines Canadian mothers' experiences with this advice, and the implications of this for cultural understandings of motherhood and childhood. Mothers in this study did practice intensive mothering aimed at increasing childhood intelligence and accomplishment. Neo-liberal constructions of proper parenthood that emphasize parental responsibility, parental control, risk, and competition interacted with, and affected, mothers' experiences in this regard, as did gender roles and expectations. The processes through which this unfolded are described. Consequences for mothers included increased stress, exhaustion, anxiety and guilt. However, it was in part, the negative consequences of intensive parenting that also prompted many mothers to begin to challenge the exclusively child-centered nature of this advice.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.