Limits to Motherhood’s Standards: Latent Classes of Intensive Mothering in the United States
Jane Lankes

Mothers often face immense pressure to devote significant resources toward childrearing, referred to as intensive mothering. Yet, by its very nature, the demands of intensive mothering may prohibit women from enacting it in every aspect of their parenting. It remains unclear how women holistically approach intensive mothering across many different beliefs and behaviors. Using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the author examined how a sample of mothers fell into intensive mothering profiles, or latent classes, and how class membership varied by demographic characteristics. Results showed four underlying latent classes of intensive motherhood: Relaxed Mothers (32%), High Investors (25%), Selective Investors (22%), and Strained Mothers (21%). Probability of class membership varied by several characteristics, particularly education, income, race, and single parenthood. Results suggests a) in the face of demanding standards, women are selective in their parental investment, and b) many women may not fit the common narrative of intensive mothering.