Document Type

Honors Project


The state is a powerful force in private life; families that challenge its framework face erasure or sanction. From what ideals do these families deviate? This paper investigates that question in relation to childrearing. Through a content analysis of three court-approved parenting courses for separating or divorcing parents, I explore what constitutes proper parenting in the eyes of the state. Drawing from the literature on ideologies of family and self, I find courses 1) make efforts to explicitly challenge dominant ideologies of family and parenting while implicitly naturalizing them and 2) grapple to reconcile the logics of intensive parenting and the therapeutic self. Ultimately, the state prescribes the impossible by compelling parents to make everything a top priority.

Included in

Sociology Commons



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