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The Role of Sport in the Lives of Mothers of Young Children

  • Katherine E. Soule
Chapter

Abstract

Mothers, particularly those with young children, exist at the intersection of competing discourses. Normative constructions of mothering exert pressure for women to embody the ‘good mother’ by relinquishing individual interests in order to attend to child(ren)’s needs (Goodwin and Huppatz, The good mother: Contemporary motherhoods in Australia, 2010). Conversely, the sport and leisure literature—framed mostly from within the social psychological paradigm—positions children as a constraint, detailing ways in which children prevent mothers from participating. Examining individual’s experiences, almost to the exclusion of relational experiences, sport and leisure researchers argue that mothers need more opportunities that promote individuality and separation from familial lives (e.g. Miller and Brown, Leisure Sciences, 27, 405–420, 2005). Media and cultural norms have created an even wider divide between motherhood and sport participation. Engrained social messaging aligns pregnancy with the end of women’s participation in sport (Cosh and Crabb, Psychology of Women Section Review, 14(2), 41–49, 2012), which stems from framing sport as innately separate from familial relationships. More than 25 years ago, feminist scholars pointed to the need for new considerations that encapsulate mothers’ experiences (Wearing and Wearing, Leisure Studies, 7(2), 111–123, 1988). Nonetheless, scholarship has continued to reify traditional tenets that position children as a constraint. This chapter draws on a small body of scholarship that examined the complexities and interconnectedness present in mothers’ experiences of sport (Hodler and Lucas-Carr, Communication and Sport, 4(4), 1–18, 2015; Leberman and Palmer, Journal of Sport Management, 23, 305–334, 2009; Metz, Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, 8(2), 248–275, 2008; Pedersen, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 36(3), 259–274, 2001), family-centered physical activity (Klisch and Soule, 2015), and relational leisure (Freeman et al., Leisure Sciences, 28, 203–221, 2006; Soule, Connected: A phenomenology of attachment parenting, 2013; Tirone and Shaw, Journal of Leisure Research, 29(2), 225–244, 1997) to argue that greater openness when examining mothers’ experiences and meaning-making allows us to more fully understand the role of sport (or not) in the lives of mothers.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine E. Soule
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan Luis ObispoUSA

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