The Mommy Wars are about jealousy, right? And differing views of what is best for children? And a nostalgia for times past? And disagreement over what it means to be a successful woman?
No, says MORE magazine, wading into the decades-old debate. The Mommy Wars are about money.
Editors there partnered with Citi’s Women & Co. and polled 557 adults with children ages 6 months to 16 years. The results hint that the ongoing skirmishes between mothers who are and are not employed outside the home are far more economic than philosophical.
“These Mommy War issues have been festering for so long we wanted to get actual data,” says Lesley Jane Seymour, MORE’s editor-in-chief. “When you get behind the issues you see there’s a financial root there.”
You have to start from the premise that “this is a war of privilege,” Seymour says, because only women who have the means to forgo a salary and stay home are able to engage in the fighting. For that reason, The Polling Company, which conducted this survey, only included households with incomes of more than $75K, so as to compare the choices of women who could be considered to actually have a choice. Of those, 91 percent of the women who work for pay said their families are dependent on their salaries. If money were no object, 54 percent of working mothers would make a different choice, compared with 9 percent of mothers who stay at home.
Those who felt more financially secure were more likely to choose to stay home, the survey found, though, interestingly, how secure a respondent felt was not directly related to her household income. Once you are in this income bracket, the results seemed to show, security becomes relative. “The women who felt most insecure were often the women with more money,” Seymour says. The survey found that 54 percent of those with incomes between $75,000 and $99,000 a year said they feel "somewhat financially secure," compared to 51 percent of those with incomes between $100,000 and $199,000.
A related root cause, the survey found, was men. Twenty percent of the sample was male, and they report conflicted views of working and stay-at-home mothers. The latter, they say, are “better mothers” who are “happier” and have “better behaved kids.” The former, on the other hand, deserve “more respect,” “work harder” and “have a more exciting life.” When men are “sending conflicting signals,” Seymour says, “it would follow that women are responding to them. And instead of talking to the men around us, we’re taking it out on each other.”
So perhaps the solution, she suggests, is to understand the role of impression and perception -- and men, and money. “No problem goes away unless you talk about it, and unless you dig in and find the reasons for its existence” Seymour says. “We are not trying to throw fuel on the Mommy Wars fire, we are trying to extinguish them.”
What role does money play in your choice to work or stay home? How much is your choice influenced by the perceptions of others? Does the MORE analysis ring true in your life? Is this news to you, or something everyone should already know?