Moms, Work and Parenting: Making Peace with the “War”

The president and CEO of Citi’s Women & Co. on what is causing the mommy wars, according to a national survey conducted by More and Citi

by Linda Descano • President and CEO, Women & Co.
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Photograph: Photo courtesy of Linda Descano

Last summer, Anne Marie Slaughter’s essay on “having it all” sparked a fair amount of discussion about the so-called mommy wars on Connect: Professional Women’s Network, a LinkedIn group sponsored by Citi.

While Connect members were largely supportive of the choices their fellow members had made, we (my team at Women & Co.) noticed an undercurrent of judgment that surfaced in nearly every discussion thread that touched on motherhood and the workplace. And as we thought more about the underlying causes that fuel the tension between moms about their career and life choices, we kept coming back to money. We wondered, Do financial issues play a role in the tension between moms? Would women make the same choices if they didn’t have concerns about their financial security? And, most important, is there anything that we can do to overcome it? Our friends at More magazine were asking themselves the same questions, so we partnered on a survey to get to the bottom of the apparent tension. 

The results of this research were reported in the April issue of More magazine and by blogger Kate Hanley in Money, Work, and Parenting: What Moms Really Think, which we published today on Women & Co. In a nutshell, what we learned was that money, men and our own insecurities about the choices we’ve made are providing the ammunition, which More deputy editor Jennifer Braunschweiger says leads to a “festering defensiveness” that can wreak havoc on our relationships – and not just with other moms.  

When we embarked on this survey more than six months ago, we had no idea how much Marissa Mayer’s maternity leave, Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Yahoo’s telecommuting ban or the “feminist housewife" discussion would fuel the conversation—and, some might suggest, tension between moms. Our intent is not to reignite the debate, but to shift the conversation to a place where we can look inside ourselves to examine what’s really causing the resentment – and start a dialogue about how to work together towards a solution.

On Thursday, I’ll be participating in a “Moms Talking Money” video chat with More magazine editor-in-chief Lesley Jane Seymour and eleven incredible mom bloggers who have walked in the path of full-time working moms, part-time working moms, stay-at-home moms, and just about every variation in between.  I can’t wait to hear their perspectives, and hope you’ll share yours, too.

Next: Mommy Wars: The Peace Accords

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