Review of Religious Research

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 421–444 | Cite as

Strictly for Evangelical Parenting Support? The Case of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS)

Original Paper

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.

Keywords

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

Notes

Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank Patricia Sheffield, Kelly Dittmar, and M.B. Crowley for their assistance with this manuscript. In addition, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Michael J. and Susan Angelides Public Policy Research Fund provided generous financial support.

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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, RutgersThe State University of New JerseyNew BrunswickUSA

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