End the Mommy Wars: Studio 5
We’ve all heard the term “mommy wars.” Originating in the 1980s, it refers to the negative cultural experience of mothers being pitted against each other based on their different lifestyle choices. While there are many aspects of motherhood that could be included under the umbrella concept of mommy wars (breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding, etc.), the most significant dichotomy is that of working moms versus stay-at-home moms. But this framing is no longer relevant, as it doesn’t reflect the creativity and real lives of so many women who have a variety of experiences. Here are some steps to change the way we think about motherhood and end the mommy wars for good!
1) View Motherhood as a Relationship (not a Role)
We often talk about motherhood as a role, which is a prescriptive set of behaviors and expectations that defines people in a society. But consider it instead as a relationship; it’s a connection between a woman and another human being! This creates a healthier family dynamic and also provides a commonality between women with children, regardless of their job status. Let’s reframe the experience of motherhood as based on our relationship with and love for our children, not on what exactly we do each day.
2) Refuse to Choose
It’s important to know that you don’t have to buy into the dichotomous labels of “working mom” or “stay-at-home mom.” As you create your own path, you do not have to choose. Weave together a life that feels creative, authentic, and fulfilling for both you and your family. This attitude of doing what works best for your specific situation is one that can help bring women together.
3) Understand that Women Are Multi-Dimensional Human Beings
Sometimes in the societal effort to praise and honor women who have children, we over-glorify motherhood and inadvertently diminish other creative contributions women might make. Women are multi-dimensional individuals and have unique strengths and talents. Let’s remember that they are more than merely moms. Understanding this can help bring women together, whether they have children or not.
4) Redefine “Good Mother”
So if we reject the idea that being a good mother means not working out of the home, then what exactly does it mean to be a good mother? I evaluate it very simply: 1) Does a woman feel emotionally connected with her children?, and 2) Do her children feel emotionally connected with her? We don’t need to judge our worthiness as mothers based on behavior or an idealistic image of perfection (never missing a sports game, always having an immaculate home, etc.). Focus on the relationship between you and your children to help you gauge.
I’d love to hear your suggestions for calling truce on the “mommy wars”. Feel free to leave your comment below.
Dynamic self & relationship expert Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks, LCSW loves to make a difference for women. She owns Wasatch Family Therapy and regularly contributes to KSL TV's Studio 5, and her advice has been featured nationally including Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Fox News, and others. Connect on Facebook & Twitter. Her books The Burnout Cure and The Assertiveness Guide are now available.