The ‘Mommy Wars’ are a common theme in the media. Most women (and men) I know roll their eyes at the term, but are the ‘Mommy Wars’ real?
In a recent nationwide survey conducted by MORE Magazine and Citi’s Women & Co both women and men gave some surprising answers about the Mommy Wars. But, the main takeaway? The ‘Mommy Wars’ are very real, and we experience them more often than we may realize. And not only do moms have lots of opinions, but dads had their own take on the situation as well.
While parenthood, success, guilt, and work are all intertwined in numerous ways; the study focused on opinions. Those can be a tough thing to break down since we often have very different opinions about ourselves and others. Many of those judgements about other family’s choices are based on our own values, and often our self-evaluation (often self-criticism).
For many families staying at home versus working is not a choice they are at liberty to make. Both parents must work to provide for the family. It’s all hands on deck in these families. This is a problem that applies to families who make over $75,000 combined according to the Lesley Jane Seymour, MORE Magazine’s editor-in-chief.
Recently I participated in a lively discussion around the topic with Ms. Seymour, Women & Co. President and CEO Linda Descano, and a number of other journalists and bloggers. While discussing the results, and listening to everyone’s life experiences we discussed ways to put this information to work for you and your family.
What you can do about the Mommy Wars
Take ownership of your own choices. Too often we lament what we ‘must’ do, but in reality we’ve made choices that effect our work and life. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. It’s our job to own up to those choices, and work to change them if we aren’t satisfied.
Talk to your spouse or partner. What are your goals, his goals, joint goals? In the end it doesn’t matter what any else thinks, it only matters what your goals and values are, and finding a way to achieve both your dreams.
Make money talk less taboo. Open up to friends. “Sorry, I can’t go out this week since we’re working on paying off our debt right now. How about we have a girl’s night in instead?” Talk to your parents. “Mom, I know money is a touchy subject but I want to make sure you’re ok. Can we look over everything together so I know where to find everything in case I need to?” These conversations may not be easy at first, but when we consider how openly our culture discusses sexuality now, it shouldn’t be hard to talk money. No you don’t need to disclose your net worth (unless you want to), but you do need to talk about things that you’re doing right, and things you need advice from others about.
Emergency funds are key. Again and again the survey results came back to the idea that money can cause major friction and limit our choices. Having an emergency fund in place (and limiting debt) will allow you to make choices based on your goals and values instead of solely for financial reasons.
Plan for the unexpected. No one wants to think about divorce, illness, or death, but NOT planning for them will leave you dealing with stress and turmoil as well as financial issues that arise out of these situations. Again, having an emergency fund is imperative, but other financial matters come into play as well. Life insurance, wills, power of attorney, and other estate planning issues will provide you with a security net.
Make money central to your family dynamics and values. If personal finance is separate from the rest of your life, you choose not to talk about it with your family, or avoided it will only cause larger issues down the road. Personal finances should be an integral part of your day-to-day life.
Ladies (and gentlemen), have your own account. While I’m a big believer in joint accounts for family finances, having your own separate account that you stash savings for a rainy day and your ‘fun’ money will offer you security. I have heard frequently from families where one partner becomes ill and due to the names on accounts the other person is left scrambling to get power of attorney and access accounts.
Everyone on the call had different work and life situations so it made for interesting discussion, and one thing we all agreed was that grass always seems greener on the other side of the work/life fence.
What do you think? Are the Mommy Wars a real thing? Have you experienced them in your life?
Disclosure: While I write for the Women & Co. blog, I was not compensated for my time or this post, I just thought it was fascinating to share!
- Full survey results are available in this month’s issue of MORE magazine.
- Who is Winning the ‘Mommy Wars?’ on US News
- Mommy Wars: Peace Accords by Lesley Seymour
- The Mommy Wars are All About Money on Mommyish
- Dads Believe SAHMs make the Best Mothers on BabyCenter
- 20 Questions for SAHMs and working moms on Mom.Me
- Linda Descano on the Women&Co. blog: Women and Work: Are we Really Just at War with Ourselves?