A critical discovery analysis of gendered language in online parenting education

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Cameron, Christina A.
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Parenting education resources offer concrete skills, information, and support to increase individuals’ competence as parents (Krafchick, Zimmerman, Haddock, & Banning, 2005). Increasingly parents are beginning to supplement and even replace print resources with online material. The internet offers convenience, anonymity to users, and an alternative method for family life educators to deliver information (Daneback & Plantin, 2009; Duncan & Steimle, 2004). Given this centrality in parenting education practice, it is important to consider what information is being presented to parents online. More specifically, how are ideologies concerning gender and the family reflected in the language of parenting education websites? This study examined at how gender is embodied in online parenting education through doing a critical discourse analysis of selected websites. Implications for the practice of critical FLE were developed through analysis. The analysis of four parenting education websites found that two of the websites analyzed (Pampers and Ask. Dr. Sears) presented gender-neutral information and two of the websites (Parents Connect and Families Online Magazine) presented gender-specific information to parents. Findings indicated that gender messages were directly mostly at mothers, whereas there was a lack of information directed at fathers. Overall the website evaluations indicated that all four parenting websites presented gender-specific messages in one or more of the following areas: website images, videos, titles, website authors, and marketing. Analyzing how gender is presented in parenting education is important because gender is a critical variable in the socialization of children and in the organization of family relationships. In turn, through informing parents on the process and outcomes of gender socialization parents are equipped with the knowledge that allows them to be aware when raising their children, critically analyze gender expectations, and help them in making informed choices concerning how to deal with these expectations.
Parenting education , Gender and language