Drawing on findings from interviews done with 32 families living in cities across Canada, Ranson challenges dominant understandings of mothering and fathering by looking closely at how couples who have opted for less traditional divisions of labour negotiate their parental and household responsibilities. Included are interviews with breadwinner mothers and caregiver fathers, and with dual-earner couples, both heterosexual and same-sex, who struggle to share equally in the nurture and support of their families. A central claim of the book is that, to the extent that both parents are equally involved in hands-on caregiving, they tend to become, over time, functionally interchangeable and move away from "mothering" and "fathering," and toward parenting. Against the Grain offers us an excellent opportunity to examine how social change happens at the forefront of family life.
Gillian Ranson is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Calgary. She has written numerous articles on gender and parenting.