Strictly for evangelical parenting support? the case of mothers of preschoolers (MOPS)

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Abstract

Parenting poses a unique set of opportunities and challenges for both mothers who work for pay and for those who stay at home across the United States today. Specific types of "work-family" mothers' groups have thus emerged as a way for these parents to provide support, information, and advocacy to one another in friendly communities. This study analyzes the boundary work undertaken by one national Christian mothers' group, Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), to maximize its membership base and distinguish it from other work-family mothers' organizations. In this article, I first probe how MOPS engages in a particular presentation of self that I call "open evangelism" to market its organization. Open evangelism combines both an open (nonreligious) and evangelical philosophy to appeal to a diversity of mothers across the country. I then use data collected from 25 in-depth interviews with MOPS members in 2009 in order to assess if and how this open evangelism is, in fact, experienced by members at the chapter level. I find that both open and evangelical themes emerge when members describe the benefits that they receive from joining the group and the challenges presented by parenthood, thereby suggesting that MOPS is successful in its self-presentation. I conclude with MOPS' prospects for survival and growth in the competitive world of both religious and nonreligious mothers' organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-444
Number of pages24
JournalReview of Religious Research
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • Boundary work
  • Christian parenting
  • Marketing
  • Organizational presentation of self
  • Support groups for mothers

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