‘Intensive Mothering’ Discourse in Narratives Pro and Against ‘Daddy Quota’ in Latvia

https://doi.org/10.22364/ms22.07 | pp. 61-69 | PDF

Elza Lāma
University of Latvia

Abstract. Motherhood in Western civilization bows to the dominant discourse of ‘intensive mothering’, coined by Hays. The burden (and privilege) of childcare and domestic duties, prominently placed in its ‘natural’ position – on the woman’s shoulders – is slowly shifting towards a more liberal and equal division between partners, also engaging the father in taking care of the household and children. However, despite benefits for the child and woman from the father/partner participating in childrearing and menial household tasks, there is still resistance and a strong position towards ‘traditional’ gender roles in the family – upheld both by men and women. Therefore, in light of the new EU directive (Directive (EU) 2019/1158) otherwise known as the ‘daddy quota’, the aim of this research is to explore the evidence and influence of the ‘intensive mothering’ discourse on the argumentation in favour and against fathers/partners taking the non-transferrable parental leave to stay at home with their children for 2 months. A thematic analysis of comments in the most popular Facebook group for parents in Latvia regarding parental leave for the partner shows both support and resentment towards the directive, appealing to loss of income for the family, loss of a ‘special-bond’ between mother and child, woman’s decision rights and fear of increased ‘double shift’ for the mother. The article provides an insight into the ways how the main arguments against the shift towards a more liberal and gender equality-oriented division of household tasks and childcare are rooted in the ‘intensive mothering’ discourse.

Keywords: daddy quota, Facebook, intensive mothering, motherhood, social media

In: Media and Society, 2022. Proceedings of Scientific Papers = Mediji un sabiedrība, 2022. Rakstu krājums. Riga, University of Latvia, 2023. 173 p.