Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Will ‘Mommy Wars’ ever end?

  • Print

A survey released this week by the Working Mother Research Institute, which has been advocating for better job conditions for parents for 35 years, asked three generations how they felt about their mothers working outside the home.

More millennials than other groups said they were proud of mom’s career. Born between 1981 and 2000, 45 per cent of the 2,163 respondents expressed pride, compared with 37 per cent of Generation X (born 1965 to 1980) and 34 per cent of baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964). Hooray for working moms, right?

Not so fast. At the same time, more millennials — 31 per cent — wished that their moms could have stayed home with them, compared with 22 per cent of Gen Xers and 17 per cent of baby boomers.

If millennials are divided about their mothers’ choices, they’re also conflicted about their own lives. More than the other two generations, moms who are millennials describe themselves as career-oriented, while also being the group most likely to believe — at 60 per cent — that one parent should be home to care for children.

Astutely enough, Republicans and Democrats have sensed that they could grab opposite hands of this conflicted female electorate and began pulling in either direction.

A panel of prominent female conservatives, speaking Monday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, said what women need more of are husbands. Over the last 40 years — coincidentally the time frame of the current wave of feminism — women have lost their peace of mind, the panelists said.

"Feminism has done so much damage to happiness," said columnist Mona Charen as quoted in The Washington Post.

Citing data from the General Social Survey, a poll of Americans conducted every two years, the panelists said that a quarter of women are taking anti-depressants, and most women with a high school degree or less will have a first child before marriage. Married women are also richer.

For their part, Democrats are tugging in the direction of easing the working part of women’s lives. They’re speaking up about income inequality between the genders, as well as flexible jobs and the minimum wage. Two-thirds of the minimum-wage workforce is female.

It’s unfortunate that such a painful personal question — whether a woman’s life is for achievement or caregiving or both — is being probed by partisans as a way to gain an advantage with women voters. But where there are votes, there’s fire. U.S. President Barack Obama had a 36-point lead among unmarried women in the last election, which put him 11 percentage points ahead of Mitt Romney among women in general.

Will the GOP’s call to marry inspire women? Maybe Republicans can start an online matchmaking service. On the third date, you cast your ballot.

A few years ago, writer David Paul Deavel remarked that ethics students had begun answering a fundamental question differently. Asked what they would like to be able to say about themselves at age 80, many in the past gave sensitive responses about virtue and character. But by 2005, many more began answering that they’d want to have no regrets.

This is the emotion that underlies families’ conflict about whether mom — or any parent — will work outside the home or stay home and raise children. Which path will reap the least regret? I dearly wish this wasn’t the zeitgeist, because it is so distressing, causes us to retreat from each other, and has had us defensively guarding "mommy wars" territory.

In truth, there’s value in different approaches to life. But don’t tell that to the political parties. They’re busy trying to win.


Anne Michaud is interactive editor for Newsday Opinion and a member of the Newsday editorial board.


—McClatchy Tribune Services

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Trouba talks about injury and potential for Jets

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Challenges of Life- Goose Goslings jump over railway tracks to catch up to their parents at the Canadian Pacific Railway terminalon Keewatin St in Winnipeg Thursday morning. The young goslings seem to normally hatch in the truck yard a few weeks before others in town- Standup photo- ( Day 4 of Bryksa’s 30 day goose project) - Apr 30, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos


What do you think of the government's announcement that there will be no balanced provincial budget until 2018?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google