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Keywords:

  • marriage and close relationships;
  • postdivorce parenting;
  • qualitative research;
  • rural/farm families;
  • single-parent families

This paper explores how single mothers both incorporate others into family life (e.g., when they ask others to care for their children) and simultaneously “do families” in a manner that holds out a vision of a “traditional” family structure. Drawing on research with White, rural single mothers, the author explores the manner in which these women both endorse their children’s attachment to other caregivers and maintain boundaries around issues of discipline and attachment vis-à-vis these others. The author demonstrates that single mothers are willing to share this protected realm of family life with a new man (a fiancé or cohabiting boyfriend) as they pursue the goal of what has been called the “Standard North American Family.”