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
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Photograph: Phillip Toledano

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%.

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.

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 in the April 2013 issue

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