By Oliver DeMille

Mommy warsOnce again in 2013 we have a new focus in feminism.

Years ago, feminism stood for the rights of women, and later an emphasis on women being treated the same as men.

Then came the time when feminism was all about career options for women, and finally in the 1990s and 2000s the focus was on how women can “have it all,” meaning fulfillment from both career and family.[i]

A big shift occurred in 2009-2011, when a host of articles showed that there are now more women than men in college, that women did much better than men financially in the Great Recession from 2008 to 2010, and that if current trends hold, the economic future for women in the United States is much more promising than for men.[ii]

For a time, authors suggested that maybe the feminist fight was over because women have won.[iii]

Now, for some reason, in the second decade of the twenty-first century the whole thing has taken a strange turn.

The Mommy Wars

The media refers to it simply as “The Mommy Wars,” and in recent months it has reached high pitch.

There are two sides to the Mommy Wars, as outlined in a recent article in More magazine.[iv]

On one side are stay-at-home moms who are upset that they are “looked down on” by mothers who work, and on the other side are women who work and feel “judged” and “misunderstood” by the stay-at-homers.

The sad thing is that this new brand of women’s debate has turned mean.

The two sides have a lot of angry things to say about each other—things far beyond the question of whether to stay home with the kids or find daycare and go to work.

For example, they routinely criticize the kind of food the other type typically serves their families, what makes a good marriage, or the way the other side interacts with schools and makes educational choices.[v]

Another thing fueling the debate is that when men are surveyed on the Mommy Wars, they overwhelmingly side with the stay-at-home moms.[vi]

Needless to say, many working moms are neither surprised nor amused.

Follow the Money

Another emotionally-charged point is that a lot more stay-at-home moms describe themselves as “very financially secure,” while many who work say that it is a financial necessity.[vii]

Perhaps the most interesting thing in this debate is that it is generating more emotion, anger and involvement than the old-style feminist debate about male versus female roles.

Men are apparently off the hook in the new culture wars.[viii]

But what does this have to do with The Weekly Mentor?

Well, whichever side you tend to support in this stay-at-home versus go-to-work debate (and even if you don’t take a side at all), there is one part of this that is really striking.

The Casualties

In the center of the debate stand our kids.

This is a big deal.

And the debate boils down to this: If you want your kids to end up in therapy, or just struggle through life, here is the formula:

  1. Plan out every detail of their lives, especially their education
  2. Push, push, and push them to excel in everything
  3. Use their achievements to impress people so you’ll look like a great parent

These things may seem ridiculous, but they have become the norm for far too many parents—dads as well as moms.

Many of today’s parents too often acts as if they think they can control their kids’ lives and that this will guarantee that their kids grow into happy adults, and that this will also make the parents themselves more happy![ix]

As Jeff Blume put it, “We’re confusing our own needs with our kids’ needs and calling it good parenting.”[x]

Too many parents think if their kids excel, people will think they’re good parents, and so they set out to make sure they excel.

They worry about what the neighbors or extended family will think of their kids’ learning, so they are tempted to drive them to the wrong kind of education.

And many from both groups of parents—the stay-at-homers and the go-to-workers—are making this same mistake.

The thing is, there’s a real solution for all this. It’s called Leadership Education (TJEd).

Or, if you don’t like labels, call it great education that truly inspires.

The keys to this kind of learning and parenting are simple.

They boil down to:

  • Apply the 7 Keys![xi] Set an example of getting a great education. Read the classics and great books yourself. Don’t live through your kids and try to impress people by your kids’ achievements. Whatever education you have now, get a better one! Read more! Read the greatest books!
  • Apply the 4 Phases of Learning![xii] Toddlers learn differently than teens. And pre-teens learn differently from both. Find out how your children learn best in each of the four phases, and help them get the right education for their current phase.
  • Inspire![xiii] Learn how to be a truly inspiring parent, and help everyone who teaches, coaches and leads your kids learn how to be a more inspiring mentor and leader. Inspiration is essential to great learning, and great learning is the solution to all mediocre education. But great learning comes when the student wants to get a great education, begs for it. And there is a way to ensure that each student is deeply inspired! Again, see the 7 Keys.[xiv]


We don’t need to get caught up in a debate about whether mothers who work or stay home are better.

Seriously, what a waste of time. Who are we, or you, to say what everyone else should do?

Whoever you are, there will very likely be times in your life when the right thing will be to stay home and others when your best choice is to work.

Likewise, it is probably right for one of your friends to work and one of your friends to stay home. So can we just dump this dumb argument?

Our kids deserve a truly great education. Are they getting it?

Can you set a better example? Can you apply the 7 Keys better?

We know we can, and that’s what the real focus should be.

Now that’s something worth fighting for.


[i] See Geraldine Sealy, “Supermom Smackdown,” Marie Claire, March 2012, p. 191.

[ii] See, for example: Kate Bolick, “What, Me Marry?: All the Single Ladies,” The Atlantic, November 2011, pp. 116-136; Nanette Varian, Childless by Choice, More, October 2010, pp. 106-114; Belinda Luscombe, “Week-On, Week-Off Parenting,” Time, October 18, 2010, pp. 67-68; Lea Goldman, “The New American Couple,” Marie Claire, April 2011, pp. 139-140; Sandra Tsing Loh, “Our Houses, Our Selves,” The Atlantic, July/August 2010, pp. 112-126; Don Peck, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America,” The Atlantic, March 2010, pp. 42-56; Jen Miller, “Daddy Fever,” Marie Claire, April 2011, pp. 109-110.

[iii] See, for example: Jennifer Braunschweiger, “Attack of the Woman-Dominated Workplace,” More, September 2010, pp. 139-145, 186-189; Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men,” The Atlantic, July/August 2010, pp. 56-72.

[iv] “Why the Mommy Wars Rage On,” More, April 2013, pp. 107-113.

[v] See, for example, Sandra Tsing Loh, “My Chinese American Problem—and Ours,” The Atlantic, April 2011, pp. 83-103.

[vi] Ibid., p. 113.

[vii] Ibid., p. 111.

[viii] “Are Girlfriends the New Husbands?Marie Claire, January 2013, pp. 68-71.

[ix] See Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” The Atlantic, July/August 2011, pp. 64-78.

[x] Ibid., p.70.

[xi] See Oliver DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.


For more ideas on building an personal library of classics, and on how to engage your family in reading and discussion great works, download our Family Reading e-book.

Image Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.