November 12, 2010

When is enough, enough?

          Have you read it? Erica Jong's controversial article in The Wall Street Journal went viral this week. I have seen a number of very eloquent blog posts in response to Ms. Jong. I am not going to attempt to point/counterpoint the WSJ article here. I just want to ask one question: When is enough, enough?
          Much has been made of the so-called “Mommy Wars” over the years. It can actually be traced all the way back to the 1950s. In the past decade especially, it has been hard to escape. I think the current generation of women has taken things to a whole new, and in my opinion distasteful, level. 
          Women are attacking each other at alarming rates. Nothing appears to be off limits. The animosity now extends far beyond the traditional work or stay at home debate. The most recent wave involves women who have differing philosophies on how to raise their children. 
          There appears to be no end to the topics that can generate controversy. And yet I hear over and over from women they just want the feuding to end. They hate it, and recognize it is bad for all of us. The overall consensus seems to be that women are sick and tired of the attacks. The judgement. The finger pointing. 
          The last thing women need is to be at war with each other. Regardless of the choices they make - when they have options - or their status as mothers, women simply want to be understood and supported. They do not like to feel they are being judged, particularly as moms, or their decisions questioned at every turn. They have a tendency to do that enough to themselves.
          I believe a healthy dialogue can be a good thing, as long as it is approached with respect. Which, in my opinion, is sorely lacking today. There is no choice that is right for every woman. Why does it seem that is so hard for some people to accept?
          By no means do I believe the choices I have made are in any way better, wiser or superior. They are simply what fits my family. And I respect that other women make the best choices they can to fit their families.
          I have been fortunate enough to not experience the negativity personally - yet. On the contrary. I have connected with many wonderful, supportive moms via social networking and the blogosphere. We commiserate. We offer advice. We support one another. It has been a very positive experience for me.
         But that is not always the case. I keep posing the question, though I know no one has the magic answer. Why do moms attack each other? And how can we stop it? Have you personally experienced this? Do you even think about it when you write a blog post? Do you worry? Or do you just see it as coming with the territory?
          Would love to know your thoughts on the issue...


  1. when I interviewed potential employees, one question - what is your work history - resulted more often than not with a young woman embarassed by her job as a mother and wife.

    I always told them, "Being a mother is the most rewarding, difficult, important, and vital job there is and nothing can compare."

    They always perked up afterwards. But a female supervisor sneered at them with the attitude of someone who thought the young women had no motivation.

    The squabbling is foolish. If the definition of 'liberated' is to have an job outside the home, then color me unenlightened.

  2. Heck if I know. I'm a big believer in "different strokes for different folks" and "live and let live." What works for some isn't going to work for others. Seems simple enough for me.

    I really think the attacking may have something to do with insecurity on the part of the attacker. Some people need to make others "wrong" in order to feel "right" themselves. Sad, but I've learned to ignore people like that. :)

  3. *sigh* elizabeth, this was a *perfect* "response." because it's peaceful, real and honest just like your broach (and fab soon-to-be must read book!!) is!

    i think we all want so badly to be right, and doing it the best possible way so sometimes we take others' personal choices as a reflection of us rather than, you know, running their own lives.

    with voices like yours getting out there, it ha to stop sometime...right?! fab post, as always! love, it!

  4. I love to sit back when something is going on and just read all views. Most of them are idiots but I mostly don't tell them. If I do they probably won't understand anyways b/c those people often have a hard time hearing. It's hard to know you're wrong when you never listen. I don't participate. It's not that I don't have strong views but putting them out there in an online sense doesn't really help me in living my life. I live my life with what I believe in and that's what matters to me.

  5. Sadly, this isn't just about motherhood. There are women out there that attack each other for the smallest of things - to make them feel better about themselves. That is why I choose my female friends wisely and surround myself with supportive, positive people. Like yourself. :-)

  6. It is sad all the judgement that goes on even in the blog world. I recently experienced it and was completely taken back by an anonymous commenter on my blog.

    I truly believe everyone has different life situations and circumstances and therefore make decisions for "their" family based on that. Who am I to judge or attack someone when I don't walk in their shoes? I just try to keep it in perspective and remember I am doing what is right for my family.

    If you'd like to read my post about it go to

    Glad I found this post and your blog!

  7. Unless women stop having opinions and insecurities, it will never end. All we can do is focus on our own decisions and be grateful we've been given a reason to make them.

  8. wow just read the a very soon to be mom it scares me! Everyone just needs to do what's best for them and their own family. people should respect that but they dont...I do my best not to judge but it's hard not to pass along my own opinions...I am pro breastfeeding and pro being a SAHM...but that's what works for me...

  9. @ Huntress - That is really interesting. And sad. No one should be embarrassed about being a mom. At the same time, I will admit I used to look down on it. So I can understand. I completely agree with you about the squabbling!

    @ Linda - Live and let live has always been my philosophy. Unless what you are doing puts me or my family at risk, it is none of my business.

    @ Galit - I think there is a lot to what you are saying. People do tend to take it personally. It could be in the delivery. Or it could simply be they can't stand there are opinions other than their own.

    @ TheNextMartha - Good for you! I think that is the perfect way to approach it, and I try to do the same.

    @ Miss Kitty - Very, very true. :(

    @ Steph - I read your post. Very sorry you had to deal with that, but thought your response was great! Thank you for the follow. Hope you enjoy my blog! And I am now following yours. :)

    @ Ericka - We are all always going to have opinions.

    @ Jen - Don't mean to scare you! LOL And you are absolutely allowed to have your opinions. Be proud of them and own them. But, like you said, everyone just needs to do what is best for them...

  10. Well put, Elizabeth! And yes I have experienced it a little in real life and mostly in passive aggressive ways. I think it comes down to two possible reasons: (1) insecurity and (2) deep entrenchment in the philosophy and in parenting itself. I could write a whole blog post on that second one. I confess I haven't read the whole article as my toddler only allows for snippets of information at a time! But what I don't think anyone is talking about much is that a lot of this bickering crap is coming from the educated women, and as such, this is a class thing in part. When you're struggling to put food on the table and pay your bills, engaging in debate about cloth diapers, working parents, or formula vs. breastmilk doesn't really rank as a top priority, you know? Okay, I need to write a post about this!

  11. I couldn't agree with you more.

    We need to spend more time building each other up, instead of tearing each other down.

    Every choice I make as a parent is for "my" family. I don't expect for the world to do exactly what I do, and I surely won't be doing many of the things I see others doing.

    I do respect others reasonable parenting decisions and I expect to have their respect in return. (I said reasonable, because we all know some parenting choices are ridiculous)


  12. I do always worry about it, worry that I will be judged but for the most part I have only encountered respect. Even if we don't see eye to eye, that's okay. I respect that. You are right, there is no one "right" way. We should be supporting each other. I hope this becomes more of the norm. Good discussion.

  13. I think women attack because of guilt, personally. We all feel guilt because in one way or another, we've all screwed up somehow with our kids. NO ONE is perfect. But to assuage the guilt, we attack and tear down someone else's choices, just trying to bring 'em down to our level - or rather, the level we believe ourselves to be at (usually, we're wrong).

    I think that's pretty much it. As long as there is Mommy Guilt, there will be Mommy Wars.

    Thanks for stopping by, today! Your comment made me grin for about an hour straight.

  14. Well said.

    I pretty much have the same view as The Next Martha - and I said as much in my post yesterday - but sometimes, I just have to say something.

    Perhaps because I have a big mouth :)

    Incidentally, I'm also on Team Down With Mommy Guilt.

  15. have experienced the negativity personally. I've always worked. I'm a teacher, so that makes it easier, but I still juggled. Stay at home moms judged year after year. They still do when I can't bring three homemade desserts to teacher appreciation day and drop them off mid-morning.

    They also judge my husband...obviously he isn't successful enough for me to have stayed home. The reality is, I think I was a better mother because I worked. For others the choice is different, so be it.

    I try not to listen, but it hurts. Both of us are successful, dedicated, career people and parents. The fact that our children are well adjusted and successful is the only thing I care about. It's the only thing anyone should care about.

    Good luck.

  16. I know I'm a weird kind of optimist when it comes to this, but I really, truly see a change, at least from my generation, amongst the moms I know. We are *all* sick of the judgement, and I actually see moms actively trying to be more inclusive, more understanding. That's not to say the mommy wars don't exist, but I grow tired of the media blowing them out of proportion sometimes. What on earth would people like Jong have to write about if we didn't judge each other? Sometimes I think the media has a lot to loose if we all support each other, and they love a good mom on mom catfight. It annoys me that they don't focus on the *good* that comes from mommy bloggers and other mothers today.

  17. I just read Erica Jong's article. I'm not sure what "side" I'm supposed to be on. I think that's your point. We shouldn't be taking sides. But I have to admit, I LOVED that article. It says everything I've felt since becoming a mother but never really knew how to say.

    And I'm going to be totally honest here because I can't help but be honest. I do judge other women. I have opinions about what they are doing right and wrong. Some of those I've eaten after I took my foot out of my mouth. But one thing I've never done is tell someone they are doing it wrong. I might question them to try to understand or help if they are having problems. I might give suggestions in my general direction. But there is no "wrong" way to mother.

    Okay, there are SOME things you can do wrong. But the most important thing to me is knowing that I have a happy, healthy child that knows he's loved. And knowing he is a unique little creature and a different child with a different mom would most likely have an entirely different relationship.

    Ultimately, I think you find much more judgment on the internet because it's easy to do here. It's easy to hide. Instead, I try to keep my foot out of my mouth and then spill it all to my husband ;)

  18. Working full time since My daughter was eight weeks old I have been judged over and over and over. As a blogger, I sometimes feel the weight of my choices even more because there are so many get togethers during the day. For me, it is all personal- we have to make choices that work for us...not for the going sentiment. As a teacher, i hear colleagues make judgements about parents who work full time and aren't there to support their kids....i get so mad each time. Why are we punishing kids for the choices that their parents have made- in many cased because there was no choice. We need to be resoectful of each other- and try to step into one another's shoes before we judge.

  19. @ Peas out - Yes, I think those are both potential reasons. And what an interesting point you make. You're right; a lot of women don't have the luxury of debating these issues. I look forward to reading your post.

    @ Tonia - I'm not going to touch the "ridiculous" comment. ;) But I agree 100% that we need to work and building each other up!

    @ Dr. Mom - I hope it becomes more of the norm, too. Thanks for joining the discussion!

    @ Adelle - I have felt guilt, sure. But I have never attacked another mom for that or any reason. I just don't do it. And your post was amazing! Don't you tell me you can't write fiction. ;)

    @ Cane Wife - We need t-shirts! "Team Down with Mommy Guilt!" I love it!

    @ Jeannie - Hey, I'm a SAHM and I can't bring three homemade desserts either! LOL How sad that people would make judgements about not only you, but your husband. So unwarranted and unfair.

    @ Jill - I am the eternal optimist. To a fault, really. And you are totally on target about the media. I think they work hard to fuel the fire to get attention/ratings/sales. Unfortunately, it works. In the end, only we can facilitate change. I'm glad you are seeing it!

    @ Fadra - What a wonderfully honest response! I loved your comment. I am certainly willing to admit I judge other women. I think to a large degree that is human nature. But I don't take it to the next level. I keep my thoughts to myself. Unless what someone else is doing impacts my own family, it's their business. Or if it puts a child at risk, but that is a totally different matter...

    @ C Mom - You make a lot of good points, but I'm glad you brought up the fact that in many cases the moms don't have choices. That does tend to be overlooked. Especially when it comes to the work/stay at home debate. Many families cannot afford for the mom to stay home. As an outsider, we have no way of knowing how that woman feels about her situation. And we certainly should not judge her. But even when it IS the moms choice to work outside the home, we should not judge her either. IMHO :)

  20. As a woman who has experienced all three roles: The full-time working mom out of the home, SAHM and the WAHM, they each have their own pros and cons - and not one of those "titles" is any easier than the other because they all have the word MOM in them. We are *all* hard working moms and I've blogged about this never ending topic a few times as well. I think the best way to approach this issue is to keep an open dialogue and hopefully, find a way to connect in a way we haven't before. At least it's a start...

  21. i don't think i've been attacked personally. but i've seen it pretty viciously over the years to others. i heard people knock working moms indirectly and i've heard others knock SAHM's indirectly as well.

    we've all made the choice b/c it works for our family. i LOVE my job and i LOVE my family more. but just b/c someone wants to stay home doesn't make me think they are bad/good/lazy/social/blah blah blah.

    ugh, i so dislike the wars. i refrain from judging people on my blog or even referring a little to people's choices. my blog is ALOT about working moms, but it is also VERY VERY relavent to any woman!!!!!!!

  22. As Erica Jong's article states, there are good arguments for both sides..always. Some say attached parenting is the ONLY way and some say you're slowing you child down by following that method.

    No one will ever agree 100% on all the possible methods that exist. I think everyone should remain open-minded in new ideas, but confident to stand behind their decisions.

  23. I have a friend who told me that his new job in retirement is to make certain that his two daughters know they are fabulous mothers. That's what he does...makes sure his daughters SEE how they are terrific moms.

    I asked him how he was so wise.

    He said, "The day my wife took our new born daughter into her arms, I saw INSTANT GUILT. And it's the same with every woman...put a baby in her arms and she is immediately not 'good enough'."

    I mentor women. It doesn't matter the background, the status, color, faith, creed or culture...none of them feel they got what they needed as a child. My job is to help them 'grow up' and realize that what they are seeking is inside them and it is their responsibility to look after that sacred spot. Not anyone else - not even mom!

    Kudos to all of you who have taken on this incredible role of motherhood...however it is being fulfilled.

  24. This reminds me of another blog I read this week regarding the freedom of speech. And I'll repeat myself, w/ this freedom comes responsibility. Expressing our opinion of another woman's choices is of course our right but is it responsible?

    I am quite careful to keep my opinion to myself b/c I'm still pretty new to this mom thing and I've already changed almost EVERY preconceived idea I've had about my role.

  25. I honestly think Mothering is a huge job full of big responsibilities with a sliding scale of success that you can't truly measure until you're too old to do anything about it. So to not be so scared about it, lots of moms get themselves all uber-passionate about how their going to raise their kids and harshly judge everyone else around them before they get judged themselves. It's self-protection.

    It's stupid and childish behavior, and someone just needs to tell every single mom out there this: It is OK to be scared, it is a scary job. Just be kind to all the other people out there with your job, so you can help each other. Motherhood isn't a competition. Done right, it's a partnership of Moms in your family & community.

  26. I read Erica Jong's article a few days ago in the WSJ and was surprised at the amount of negative responses the article received. Apparently so was she. She responded on Weds to Lisa Belkin in the NY Times (, stating that it was the subject, not she, that was provocative. She is right, she says nothing in the article that is overly dramatic or damning, or really that new or original. I think people just love to judge parents and have ideas of how they should be parenting their children. We mothers soak it up because we are so damn lost sometimes or uncertain as to what the heck we are doing.

    A few months ago Kathryn Blundell got ripped apart for her article about breast feeding, just because she wrote a tongue and cheek piece about this, again, provocative topic. I wrote a blog post about it, found here:

    I just hope all of us moms, dads, and all caregivers, can cut ourselves and other some slack, do what feels right, and ignore the busy bodies trying to tell us what to do.

    Love your blog, glad I stumbled across it today on Red Dress

  27. Why do moms attack each other? And how can we stop it? Have you personally experienced this?

    I can only imagine that moms attack each other because of a lack of confidence in their own ways/parenting style. I wish that people would be more accepting that what works for one family may not work for another and as long as that way doesn't harm the child, then they don't have a right to judge or call anyone out. I try to practice what I preach. If I do judge, I usually keep my opinion to myself.

  28. I'm shocked and saddened that we moms can be so awful to one another. Are we all so insecure about our choices that we need to beat other people up to make ourselves feel better?

  29. who has time to be worried about what other moms think? i am often in the minority with my parenting style and decisions. i guess my husband and i are non-traditional in our roles, but traditional in our parenting. compared to most of those around us, we are strict and tremendously involved in everything our kids do. we have high expectations of their behavior and performance in school. people think we're nazis, basically (not kidding). i suppose what i'm saying is that i don't parent like the norm around me, but i make no apologies for it nor do i worry about it. i don't think any mom should. and if my own kids think they can do it better, then i will applaud their efforts when the time comes. my ultimate goal: raise these children so they are independent, not living in my basement when they are 25, and perhaps maybe even making positive contributions to the world in which we live! hey moms, how about we look at the bigger picture and all just focus on that!

  30. It's funny, because like you I have overwhelmingly experienced support from my fellow moms, both online and off. I think the danger is when you're talking about a hypothetical person and not a real live person you know. And I find that most people are open-minded. That said, I just read another blog decrying the judging of moms by other moms, but then the writer went on to judge moms who let their babies cry it out, saying that was cruel and inhuman. So people clearly have different levels of tolerance. I don't have any answers, but it's an interesting discussion for sure.


I value your input, and appreciate your taking the time to not only read, but also comment on this post! Thank you! Please come back often and keep the discussion going...

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