Observing Multiple Mothering: A Case Study of Childrearing in a U.S. Lesbian-Led Family



Abstract Previous research on lesbian-led families rarely comments on specific mothering moments observed first hand by researchers. This article presents observations made with one such family in February of 2007, which followed up research I conducted throughout 2001–04 with this family and 29 other lesbian-led families. The vast majority of these informants are middle-class Euro-American lesbians living in the New York metropolitan area. In this article I detail particular mothering moments pertaining to the ways in which one couple educates and disciplines their children. Observations reveal an intentional rule-based parenting guided by expert opinion and focused on producing “highly intelligent,”“polite” children. I argue that raising “good children” is meaningful to lesbian couples in the United States as it indexes their own value as “good parents.” I suggest that my informants are nontraditional traditionalists as they parent and socialize their children in ways that cull components from cultural models from their own families of origin. These data offer a corrective to popular views of alternative family formations and practices as strictly countercultural. The family presented in the following microethnography consciously incorporates and reappropriates many traditional cultural values and models from the dominant heterosexual, middle-class, Euro-American culture. [lesbian-led families, U.S. parenting, childrearing, discipline, comothering, lesbian IVF]