The Intuitive, Caring Mother

  • Stefan Ramaekers
  • Judith Suissa
Part of the Contemporary Philosophies and Theories in Education book series (COPT, volume 4)


In trying to articulate the first-person perspective, theoretical perspectives that emphasise some idea of the caring mother (parent) seem, at least at the outset, to be helpful. Feminist work on care and maternal understanding is, in a sense, a development of the work on the priority of the particular, and this is an important theoretical resource as it pays attention to the quality and the nature of particular relationships, thus promising to capture something more akin to the parent–child relationship than the categories and concepts often used in work in philosophy and philosophy of education. In this chapter, we draw on the work of Sara Ruddick on maternal thinking, on Nel Noddings’ work on care specifically as developed in her seminal work Caring (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1984) and on Naomi Stadlen’s attempt to articulate What mothers do, especially when it looks like nothing (Piatkus, London, 2004) to shed some more light on the first-person perspective. Following on from this discussion, we will briefly develop a criticism of recently proposed conceptions of parenting (by Jennie Bristow and Frank Furedi) offered in opposition to the unwanted rise of the parenting expert and the increasing levels of state intervention in family life.


Human Nature Moral Reasoning Moral Dimension Previous Chapter Evaluative Judgement 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bristow, J. (2009). Standing up to supernanny. Exeter: Societas Imprint Academic.Google Scholar
  2. Cavell, S. (1979). The claim of reason. Wittgenstein, skepticism, morality, and tragedy. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Chua, A. (2011). The battle hymn of the tiger mother. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  4. Furedi, F. (2001). Paranoid parenting. London: Allen Lane.Google Scholar
  5. Guldberg, H. (2009). Reclaiming childhood. Freedom and play in an age of fear. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Hough, S. (1997). Nietzsche’s noontide friend. The self as metaphorical double. Pennsylvania: University Park/The Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Levering, B., Ramaekers, S., & Smeyers, P. (2009). The narrative of a happy childhood: On the presumption of parents’ power and the demand for integrity. Power and Education, 1, 83–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Noddings, N. (1984). Caring. A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  9. Noddings, N. (2003). Happiness and education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ramaekers, S. (2008). Multicultural education: The problems of irreconcilable differences and change. In C. Thompson & G. Weiss (Eds.), Bildende Widerstände – widerständige Bildung: Blickwechsel zwischen Pädagogik und Philosophie (pp. 79–97). Bielefeld: Transcript.Google Scholar
  11. Smith, R. (2010). Total parenting. Educational Theory, 60(3), 357–369.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Stadlen, N. (2004). What mothers do, especially when it looks like nothing. London: Piatkus.Google Scholar
  13. Wittgenstein, L. (1961). Notebooks, 1914–1916 (G. E. M. Anscombe, Trans.). Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences Laboratory for Education and SocietyKatholieke Universiteit LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Faculty of Policy and Society Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations