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February 16: Find out why Childcare Literature has any influence over Childrearing Practices of American Mothers


Two IUPUI professors discuss the role and widespread influence of popular self-help literature on contemporary American mothers

When: Friday February 16 4:30 p.m.

Where: IUPUI Cavanaugh Hall 508

Catherine Dobris, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, IUPUI
Kim White Mills, Associate Professor and Chair of Communication Studies, IUPUI

Dobris and White-Mills, both widely published in various communication and gender studies journals, will discuss the current role of popular literature on the contemporary American mother. In previous joint publications, they have made the claim that self-help literature has gained the reputation as the preeminent beacon of advice for childrearing practices, often more highly-regarded than the advice of the mothers' mothers and their own maternal instincts. Dobris and White-Mills will take this theory to a new level, exploring sociological constructs and effects of this self-help phenomenon on the American family.

A summary of their research: “The purpose of this research is to utilize a feminist perspective to understand how the rhetoric of childcare influences contemporary parenting practices. First, we identify primary sources of information on child rearing used by American mothers. Second, we examine how and to what extent mothers perceive child rearing advice influences their parenting practices. Third, we examine to what extent, if any, the use of child rearing advice is impacted by race, educational level, religion and socio-economic status.”

Dobris and White-Mills lead us to ask: Why, in the context of our current media-driven world, do we seek external resources to aid us in our own, often intuitive practices? Why are so-called "experts," often self-made millionaires considered more reliable sources of information than our own parents for such fundamental practices as bringing up children? And hopefully, Dobris and White-Mills will make their talk relevant to Indiana: Where do Indiana families, specifically those at a disadvantage, go for help in raising their children? Come, ask questions, and be enlightened.

What about fatherhood, you say? You're in luck. The next session in the IUPUI Sabbatical Speakers Series addresses a parenting trend across the pond. Linda Haas, Professor of Sociology at IUPUI will lecture on March 9 about "Integrating work and family: Social policy, corporate culture, and fatherhood in Sweden." Another important policy event relating to children this spring happens when Siobhan McEvoy talks about Children and international conflict March 14 and March 27.

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