Sex Roles

, Volume 70, Issue 7–8, pp 315–328 | Cite as

Exploring the Social Origins of Dutch Mothers’ Ideal Family Lives

Original Article


This paper examines how Dutch mothers’ ideal family lives (traditional, adaptive or egalitarian) have been formed in interaction with other people, an assumption that is central to socialization theories. With nominal regression analysis of data from a representative survey in 2010 among 935 Dutch mothers, we analyse various social influences on a mother’s current ideal family life. As hypothesized, the results show that a mother endorses a more egalitarian ideal family life if she recalls the gender role specific parental message ‘you should work in order to be financially independent of others’. Additionally, if the respondent recalls a positively work orientated mother at the age of 12 years, she has now as an adult more egalitarian ideals compared to daughters who recall a more home orientated mother or who have no memories of their mothers in that respect. We also show that as expected in the hypotheses 3 and 4, that Dutch mothers who have perceived career support by her partner and from people at work have now more egalitarian ideal family lives. Mothers’ current ideals are thus formed and further developed within prior social bonds. Moreover, mothers’ ideal family lives seem not only dependent on their current labour market behaviour, but to some degree resistant to change. However, the results must be interpreted with care because of the cross-sectional research design and the use of retrospective questions.


Mothers Ideal family lives Parental socialization Career support Secondary others 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS)University of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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