What is Causing the Mommy Wars?

We reached out to stay-at-home mothers (SAHMs) and working mothers (WMs) around the country (some fathers, too) and asked them to fess up about the fight. What we learned: Money, men and our own insecurities are providing the ammunition.

MORE/Citi Survey
mommy wars image
Photograph: Phillip Toledano

WE DO AGREE ABOUT SOME THINGS
If there's a silver lining, it's that SAHMs and WMs are often in sync. One notable example: The sides are in tune about the reasons for resentment between us. Respondents from both groups gave equal weight to jealousy, lack of understanding about the other mother's situation, insecurity about our life choices and the fact that schools need so much from parents. We all point the finger in the same directions. Women get it.

IT BOILS DOWN TO MONEY
When we designed the More/Citi survey, we deliberately limited it to households with income over $75,000 so that we could hear from women and men who presumably have some choice about working. But even in that demographic, many women seem to have jobs primarily for the cash: 91 percent of the WMs said their families are very or somewhat dependent on their salaries. We also asked all the respondents if they regretted any family-related decisions they'd made on the basis of money. Almost half-47 percent-of WMs said that money is the reason they work and that they would prefer to stay home or work fewer hours. Wow. Are half the women in any given office wishing they were home with their kids? SAHMs don't seem as conflicted: 76 percent of them say no, they've never regretted a parenting decision they made because of money.

  • 54% of working mothers say a stay-at-home mother has made them feel bad at least once about working full time.
  • 47% of respondents say money plays a role in the tension between working mothers and stay-at-home mothers.
  • 47% of stay-at-home mothers say they've felt taken advantage of by a working mother.

 

THERE WERE SOME SUBTLE DIFFERENCES BY RACE
In the More/Citi survey, 79 percent of respondents were white, 11 percent Asian, 4 percent Hispanic and 3 percent black (other groups made up 1 percent or less). Interestingly, most of the nonwhite respondents came from two-income families; they were less likely to stay home than white respondents. Also, more of the nonwhite respondents' mothers had worked outside the home-which made this group some of the most pro-working mothers in our sample.

financially insecure image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RESENTMENT RUNS THROUGH IT

 

IT'S NOT HOW MUCH MONEY YOU HAVE. IT'S HOW SECURE YOU FEEL.

We asked a lot of questions about financial security and relationship security, and several surprises emerged. First, how financially secure you feel correlates with how secure you feel in your relationship. Second, how financially secure you feel doesn't correspond to your household income (HHI). Some respondents who in fact have a lot of money still feel financially secure.

Do you feel financially secure? If you do, you are more likely to also feel secure in your relationship. If you don't, you are less likely to feel secure with your spouse or partner. 75: Percentage of people who consider themselves financially secure who also answer that they feel completely secure in their relationship. 63: Percentage of people who consider themselves financially insecure who also feel completely secure in their relationship.

 

 

 

 

Click "next" for more statistics from the survey.

 

51% say the state of the economy contributes to the tension.

Stay-at-home mothers are more likely than working mothers to describe themselves as very financially secure: 29% vs. 19%.

HOW MEN FUEL THE FIGHT
One section of the More/Citi survey was a series of such provocative questions as "Who is a better mother?" and "Who works harder?" For each, we offered four answers: both, neither, SAHMs and WMs. Thirty-two to 75 percent of the respondents ducked the questions by answering "both" or "neither." But the men who did take sides said they believe SAHMs are better mothers, have better-behaved kids, are happier, have more difficult jobs and are better role models for their children. In conflict with this: Men also say they respect WMs more and think they work harder and have a more exciting life. Talk about mixed signals-especially for WMs with doubts about their own life choices.

HOW WE DID IT
On behalf of More and Citi's Women & Co., the Polling Company/Woman Trend conducted a nationwide online survey of 557 American adults with children ages six months to 16 years and a household income of $75,000 or greater from November 29 to December 2, 2012. The group was 20 percent men and 80 percent women. Sampling controls ensured that a proportional number of people from different regions, ethnicities and age groups were interviewed. For the purposes of this survey, "working mother" (or father) refers to someone who works outside the home for pay 30 or more hours a week; "stay-at-home mother" (or father) refers to someone who works fewer than 30 hours a week for pay and primarily remains at home with children.

Next: Moms, Work and Parenting: Making Peace with the "War"

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First Published Mon, 2013-03-25 18:14

Find this story at:

http://www.more.com/reinvention-money/careers/what-causing-mommy-wars