Raising kids is complicated, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for the gamut of things parents deal with every day.  This book interweaves real life stories, the latest academic research, and the often-overlooked ways in which our culture’s high expectations for mothers increase their workload, pressure, and guilt.  It offers parents a practical resource to figure out workable solutions to their biggest parenting, relationship, and work challenges. 


All On One Plate is an anthropological study of 140 middle-class mothers who share the highs and lows of their parenting, relationship, and work experiences.  The book interweaves real-life stories, the latest academic research, and in-depth cultural analysis to offer a complex portrait of today’s mothers.  

Topics covered include: What is a good mom, pressure, guilt, & judgment; the transition to motherhood; negotiating relationship issues and the division of labor after having children; balancing work and parenting; overseeing safety, good nutrition and exercise; instilling a positive body image; managing screen time; curbing entitlement; activities and achievement; and raising good kids.

The book concludes with what makes mothers feel successful and the best advice from other moms.





“This beautifully written, sensitive account of the struggles facing American mothers is a call to action for more family-friendly public policies.  Solveig Brown’s analysis and the eloquent testimonies of the mothers she interviewed illuminate women’s daily efforts to meet cultural expectations for parenting.  The book demonstrates the need for national soul-searching to relieve the pressures on mothers who are expected to ‘do everything.’”

Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril and Liberation

"Dr. Brown's research asks all the right questions about the personal and cultural experiences of the modern American mother."


“In this well-researched study of a group of contemporary U.S. mothers, Solveig Brown offers a panoramic yet detailed picture of the challenges that women face raising children under the thumb of “intensive mothering.”  Dr. Brown enables women not only to sound off on the cultural pressures they face as mothers but also to reflect on the ways that they actively resist those pressures. By capturing the voices of the women who are actually doing the work, the book is a resource for anyone who seeks to understand the exigencies of raising children in a media-saturated world.”

Meredith W. Michaels co-author with Susan J. Douglas The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it has Undermined Women


“This innovative and well-written book offers a fresh perspective on the challenges as well as the rewards of contemporary mothering in the US.  Drawing on her deft interviews with mothers and her anthropological feel for cultural context, Dr. Brown explores in detail what life is like for mothers as they cope not only with demands on their time, energy, and patience but also with what ideologues and supposed experts are saying about what women should be doing with their lives.  The result is the best study yet on mothering in the US and, at the same time, a provocative commentary on our increasingly stressed-out families and hyper-commercialized culture.”

John Ingham, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of Minnesota


“Dr. Brown addresses the issues mothers talk about in a clear-eyed and compassionate way. This well-researched book tackles the underlying assumptions of modern day motherhood, and how we can begin to reshape them to offer more support for parents.”

Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids and founder of the Free-Range Kids Blog and Movement


“Dr. Brown's research asks all the right questions about the personal and cultural experiences of the modern American mother. The stories and insights offered in All On One Plate resonated deeply with me as both a mother and social worker, and I am grateful for this important contribution to the national conversation.”

Carla Naumburg, PhD, New York Times bestselling author of Ready, Set, Breathe and Parenting in the Present Moment


“The heart-searching, heartaches, and heart-felt wisdom of American moms today - all on one plate. Packed with nutritious research findings and nourishing insights, it's a must-read for every mother seeking a balanced parenting diet.”

Dr. Elizabeth Reid Boyd co-editor of Stay-At-Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates


“In this culturally contradictory age, especially as it pertains to motherhood, it is refreshing and imperative to read this informative and well-researched book on the lived reality of mothers today. Dr. Brown clarifies the relationship between societal expectations and the individual mother's style of mothering. This is a critical piece of work that warrants close examination and reflection, that will hopefully lead to a greater respect for motherhood and promote societal changes that will address what actions to take regarding all that is “on one plate”, namely the mothers'.”

Dr. Linda Rose Ennis, editor of Intensive Mothering: The Cultural Contradictions of Modern Motherhood


“Parents face many challenges in raising children to feel good about their bodies, make healthful food choices, and engage in enjoyable physical activity.... While there is much advice around, Dr. Brown’s book benefits from her in-depth research conducted with mothers who are living the parenting experience.”
—Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD, Professor and Division Head of Epidemiology and Community Health, University of Minnesota, author of I’m Like SO Fat! Helping Your Teen Make Healthy Choices about Eating and Exercise in a Weight Obsessed World


“Raising kids is more complicated than ever before. As kids face the pressures of social media, academic achievement, and body image, parents often feel guilt that they aren't doing enough. Through her intensive research, Dr. Brown paints a realistic picture of what motherhood looks like today and offers practical suggestions for how we as a society can better support moms and their parenting experience.” 

Sarah Holmboe, M.A., Licensed Parent Educator


“Reporting on data from interviews and focus groups with American mothers Solveig Brown provides a wonderfully rich analysis of the pains and pleasures of being a mother and doing motherhood. Engaging with issues as diverse as social media use, body image, household division of labour, academic achievements, religion and so much more the book highlights how pressures to be a good mother have become in many respects even greater in recent years.  Brown draws on multi-disciplinary sources and the result is a thoroughly scholarly and engaging read which I would recommend to anyone interested in the experience of mothers today.”

Professor Gayle Letherby, Professor of Sociology, Director of the Institute of Health and Community, Plymouth University - Australia

Discussion Guide


This book will generate a lively discussion at your book club or parent group meeting. 


Click Here to Download Discussion Guide


Attention Twin Cities Book Clubs:

I am excited to announce a TC Book Club tour!  I would be delighted to join your Book Club or Parent Group discussion.  Please contact me to schedule a date. 


About Solveig 

I conduct research that puts “real people” back into the equation.  I ask questions.  I listen to what people say, and what goes unspoken.  I observe.  I look for patterns.  My mission is to share the insights gained from qualitative research to promote understanding, solve problems, and empower individuals to be their best.


I am the author of All On One Plate: Cultural Expectations on American Mothers which draws on in-depth interviews, surveys, cultural analysis, and the latest academic research.  I have contributed to After the Happily Ever After; Intensive Mothering: Cultural Contradictions of Modern Motherhood; and Stay At Home Mothers: Dialogues and Debates.  I have presented my research to parent groups and academic conferences in the United States and Canada. 


I combine my understanding of culture with a professional certification to teach the Enneagram Personality Typing System.  The Enneagram is a highly effective tool because it offers concrete strategies for recognizing the diverse styles people use to communicate, make decisions, deal with conflict, participate on teams, lead and engage with leadership.


I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my family. 

I have a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Minnesota, an MA in anthropology from UCLA, and a BA in psychology from the University of Minnesota.   




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