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The Macalester Review

Abstract

This paper is a discursive analysis that evaluates the effect of gender stereotypes relating to parenting roles and how they have influenced custody cases. Specifically it looks at the historically gendered distinction between the provider (typically the father) and the nurturer (typically the mother) and speculates as to how those identities may have initially formed in US society, what changes they have undergone and how these stereotypes still affect family court outcomes in cases of divorce. Particular focus is given to an article appearing in Working Mother magazine entitled “Custody Lost,” detailing a new trend in custody cases, which allegedly disadvantages breadwinning mothers. Using this article as evidence, the paper concludes the parenting stereotypes of yore continue to frame societal and judicial concepts of the genders and what is expected of each in regard to family life and that failure to comply with such expectations may penalize parents in custody battles.