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.

 

First published in the April 2013 issue

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