1st Edition

Motherhood, Childhood, and Parenting in an Age of Education An Invited Invasion

By Maryellen Schaub Copyright 2023
    170 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    170 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Motherhood, as a celebrated yet underappreciated role, is often thought of as a natural process, something instinctive that we refine by watching our own mothers and others in our community. We rarely think of motherhood as something that is time and culturally specific, yet, like culture itself, it is socially constructed, and both motherhood and childhood evolve over time. With the rise in educational attainment of mothers in the American population, the expectations associated with childhood increasingly include not just education but cognitive development and extracurricular activities as the partnership between parents and education intensifies in the joint project of human development of children.

    Motherhood, Childhood, and Parenting in an Age of Education offers a new way to conceptualize the high demands of contemporary parenthood. It traces the emerging narrative about the "good mother," changes in the underlying assumptions of what constitutes the "good mother," and the implications for the "good childhood" as education grows in institutional strength. This book demonstrates that education is driving the formation of the parent and child roles in the dominant contemporary culture of the US although alternate models exist. Education itself has expanded over time to become our largest social intervention, defining behaviors and beliefs such as parental involvement in schooling, the unengaged parent, and the deficient student.



    1. An Invitation

    2. The Good Mother Goes to School

    3. The "Good Childhood" Is a Delicate Balancing Act

    4. The Institutional Invasion

    5. The "Good Mother" Is an Engaged Parent

    6. The Normative Lens

    7. Before the Invasion

    8. The Invited Invasion as a Joint Project with the Family



    Maryellen Schaub is an associate professor of education policy studies in the College of Education at the Pennsylvania State University and the professor-in-charge of the Education Theory and Policy program. As a sociologist of education, she investigates how social institutions, particularly family and schooling, intertwine and overlap in society. Her current research delves deeply into the social constructions of parenting and childhood, examining it from a number of angles and organizations. For example, she has published on topics as diverse as the increase of parent engagement in early childhood cognitive activities, the expansion of early childhood education, and the growth of child rights worldwide.

    "What makes this an important contribution is that it links changes in the wider society (and even the world as in the world educational revolution) to changes in what constitutes the good mother without pretending that we now know what constitutes good motherhood. That is, the book avoids essentialist traps and pretentious universal application claims while still showing how consequential the models of the good mother have become for mothers, children, and their societies. This will be a salient text for students, teachers, and researchers for years to come."

    –Francisco O. Ramirez, Professor of Sociology, Stanford University

    "Reading this book changes the way you think about how education has transformed motherhood and childhood over the past century, including the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Schaub’s compelling analysis is full of insights, creatively contrasting everyday notions and academic arguments with a wealth of evidence embedded in an accessible, engaging narrative of shifting intergenerational relationships. An important sociological contribution, it unmasks how the ever-tighter intersection between schooling and the family influences roles, expectations, and identities of childhood and parenthood everywhere."

    –Justin J.W. Powell, University of Luxembourg


    "The worldwide explosion of education has dramatically impacted parenting -- and motherhood in particular.  Dr. Schaub impressively analyzes this transformation, based on her own research, the wider literature, and her own personal reflections. This unique book will be of great interest to those concerned with modern familial and educational arrangements".

    John W. Meyer, Professor of Sociology, emeritus, Stanford University