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Sensitive Mothering (Walkerdine and Lucey)

  • By: Donna Holstine Vander Valk
  • In: Encyclopedia of Motherhood
  • Edited by: Andrea O'Reilly
  • Subject:Sociology of Gender, Parenting, Maternal Health

Sensitive mothering is a term explored by Valerie Walkerdine and Helen Lucey in their book, Democracy in the Kitchen: Regulating Mothers and Socialising Daughters (1989), and is specifically assigned to middle-class (bourgeois) mothering. Sensitive mothering is a practice and ideology that focuses on the mother as the sole caregiver, putting the child's needs and wants above others; relies upon acknowledged expert(s), whether governmental, institutional, or popular for knowledge on how to mother; avoids conflict with a child; and displaces, avoids, and reinvents housework when children are present. All of these features of sensitive mothering are held in contrast to working-class (proletariat) mothering practice.

Child-Focused Mothering

Sensitive mothering is focused on the child as the center of the household, and the needs, wants, and feelings of the child ...

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