Good Working Mothers as Jugglers: A Critical Look at Two Work–Family Balance Films

Erika L. Kirby, Sarah E. Riforgiate, Isolde K. Anderson, Mary P. Lahman, Alison M. Lietzenmayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We examine the portrayals of two good working mothers in popular work–family balance films—Melanie in One Fine Day (1996) and Kate in I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011). Using a critical standpoint, we build on communication work–family/life scholarship to extend theoretical understanding of underlying ideological notions of the good working mother. In particular, we analyze Melanie and Kate’s performances that reflect the underlying cultural ideologies of being an ideal worker, a true domestic woman, and an intensive mother. Further, we explicate how this juggling of identities portrays good working mothers as perpetually defensive. We go beyond the analysis of ideologies to lay out some of the consequences of the performance portrayals of the good working mother, in that she should (a) accept “punishments” from her children, (b) conceptualize fathers as secondary parents, (c) solve problems on her own, and (d) choose family over work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-93
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication


Dive into the research topics of 'Good Working Mothers as Jugglers: A Critical Look at Two Work–Family Balance Films'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this