Michigan Family Review is a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary publication focusing on professional application and scholarly inquiry. MFR is published once a year with each volume highlighting a single theme. More...

Editorial Board

  • Gloria Albrecht (University of Detroit Mercy)
  • Gary Bischof (Western Michigan University)
  • Thomas W. Blume (Oakland University)
  • Katie Bozek (Transitions Therapy, PLLC)
  • Clifford Broman (Michigan State University)
  • Kathleen Burns-Jager (Michigan State University)
  • Heather E. Dillaway (Wayne State University)
  • Karen Erlandson (Albion College)
  • Sharon Lindhorst Everhardt (Troy University)
  • Roy Gerard (Michigan State University)
  • Chris Latty (Central Michigan University)
  • Carey Wexler Sherman (University of Michigan)

More Info...

Volume 18 (2014) Current Issue

“It’s the Choices You Make That Get You There”: Decision-Making Pathways of Childfree Women

Braelin Settle and Krista Brumley

Using qualitative in-depth interviews with U.S. women, we examined how and why women make the decision to remain childfree. First, we show how women’s decision-making pathways were the result of complex factors. Second, we illustrate why the women chose to be childfree, highlighting the benefits of being childfree, the costs of motherhood, and the constraints women felt they faced. Although an exploratory study, our interviews suggest diversity in how women make the decision to be childfree, partly shaped by age, relationship status, and race. Yet our analysis of why women chose to remain childfree did not reveal patterns by their individual characteristics. The women were consistent in the belief that motherhood would disrupt their lifestyle and they would risk not living up to societal expectations of a “good” mother. We argue this shows the power of the social construction of motherhood.

“After Months of It, You Just Want to Punch Someone in the Face”: Stay-at-Home Fathers and Masculine Identities

Catherine Richards Solomon

A new definition of fatherhood has emerged that prescribes more hands-on involvement from fathers, particularly with small children. In addition to this new approach to fathering, there is a small but growing number of stay-at-home fathers. Scholars know little about stay-at-home fathers in the U.S. as the majority of research has been conducted in other countries. As being a stay-at-home father is a deviation from an important tenant of hegemonic masculinity, one of breadwinning, what are the gender-related challenges these men face because of their roles? How do stay-at-home fathers respond to these challenges? I explore these questions in my study through in-depth interviews with stay-at-home fathers from across the United States. My study shows that a new definition of masculinity is emerging to support such men’s engagement in family life.

Feeding the Communal Family: “Family Time” and the Division of Household Labor in Cohousing

Heather Sullivan-Catlin

Cohousing communities are cooperative neighborhoods where privately-owned, individual households are clustered around a “common house” with shared facilities including a dining room for “common meals.” This paper examines the tension between community and family in one cohousing community and analyzes the extent to which communalizing meals helps balance household labor by gender. The findings suggest that communalizing meals has a great deal of potential for addressing both the volume and distribution of household labor for cohousing families as well as those living in mainstream housing.

Navigating, Negotiating, and Advocating: Black Mothers, their Young Daughters, and White Schools

Chasity Bailey-Fakhoury

This study convened focus groups to identify the strategies suburban Detroit, middle-class, African American mothers use to promote a positive racial identity in their elementary-age daughters attending a predominantly White school. Findings demonstrate that mothers engage three strategies that reflect a dimension of the motherwork concept: presence, imaging, and code-switching. These strategies are aimed at influencing the development of a positive racial-gender identity and are embedded within a gendered racial socialization process.

Meeting the Needs of Mothers and Families?: Family Self-Sufficiency Programs and Goals of Homeownership

Sharon Lindhorst Everhardt

This phenomenological study examines the complex barriers faced by low income women of color and their families in their attempts to achieve self-sufficiency and/or homeownership. The study sample included 24 low income women of color who participated in a Family Self-Sufficiency Program in a Midwestern state. This article focuses on six narratives as illustrations of patterns found in the complete sample. Barriers identified by the participants include employment, education, savings, and transportation. This study begins to address gaps in existing literature on the journeys that low income women and their families engage in on their paths toward economic self-sufficiency. Many have an active goal of homeownership as well, but the pathways to that goal are complicated by women’s multiple and intersecting social locations, as well as the barriers mentioned above.