1. Parenting
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

What Are the Mommy Wars?


mommy wars pictures
Photo credit: Getty Images/Andy Reynolds
Question: What Are the Mommy Wars?
People like to say the mommy wars are a media creation, and certainly, the idea of locked battle between working moms and stay-at-home moms has sold a lot of newspapers, magazines and books. But behind this hype is a grain of truth. The choices that we make about work-life balance and child care for our children are so personal and the stakes are so high, that it's hard not to be defensive when someone else makes completely different choices. Fortunately, you can tamp down on the mommy wars in your community and your friendships, with some care and aforethought.

What are the mommy wars? The term became popular in the early 2000's, around the publication of several major articles and books with "Mommy Wars" in the title. It refers to disputes between working moms and stay-at-home moms over one group's decision to continue to pursue a career and the other group's decision to quit work and focus solely on raising a family and running a household.

The mommy wars can potentially begin as early as pregnancy, when people start to ask whether you plan to go back to work after the baby is born. Or in prenatal yoga groups, when expectant mothers bond over the unknown journey ahead of them and share their strongly held beliefs about work and family -- long before those beliefs have been tested by reality.

Any working mom who's ever rushed from a work meeting to a child's school event that the stay-at-home moms have organized has probably felt the twinge of guilt over not being able to help prepare cupcakes and string up balloons. The key is to avoid letting that guilt metastasize into antagonism towards at-home moms, which is the core of the mommy wars. Instead, find a way to volunteer at school or ease the burden of the parents who run your school community, even if that's just a monetary donation or a word of heartfelt thanks.

Ultimately, the best way to keep the mommy wars from igniting in your community is to do your best to respect and understand other moms' choices. Don't buy into stereotypes about at-home moms and try not to say anything that denigrates the value of their time or the validity of their decisions. Make good friends across the mommy wars divide.

After all, just because you're working now and they're staying home doesn't mean that the roles won't be reversed in the future. An unexpected layoff or the changing demands of children as they age can throw a wrench into the best laid plans. Indeed, that's one reason the mommy wars often seem to be at a fever pitch among mothers of young children, while parents of older children better understand the many surprising paths that life can take.

  1. About.com
  2. Parenting
  3. Working Moms
  4. Support for Moms
  5. What Are the Mommy Wars?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.