FACT: Mommy Wars Do Not Exist

by Susan

Are you as sick as I am of the media capitalizing on the myth that mothers are at war with each other?

Mommy Wars Do Not Exist

Before I had children, I never thought I’d follow ideas and suggestions from the Attachment Parenting community. When my older sister had her children and chose to “wear her babies” and “co-sleep”, I thought her choices were different and possibly unnecessary but I wasn’t “AT WAR” with her about it. I just didn’t understand… YET.

Then I had a high-needs baby who responded well to baby-wearing and co-sleeping and I was thrilled to have been exposed to the ideas earlier. I began to follow some of the attachment parenting suggestions that worked for my baby and me.

When I had my first baby, breastfeeding seemed like the logical choice as to what was best for my baby, so I decided to nurse. My baby and I had challenges in the first couple of months, but I found support and help from lactation consultants and other mothers. I ended up nursing both my babies for two years each.

Before became a mother, I likely wouldn’t have understood nor been concerned with extended breastfeeding. But I wasn’t at war with anyone then, nor was I at war with anyone once I fell into the “extended breastfeeding” category.

The fact is moms are not at war with each other. But that doesn’t sell magazines.

Sure when you ask people their opinions on a subject, they’ll usually tell you their thoughts. And often those opinions may come from places of limited understanding and be biased by their own circumstances, beliefs and experiences.

And if you pit one person against another person who has a different set of circumstances, beliefs and experiences, they’ll likely disagree and may even start to debate and possibly even… FIGHT.

When the editors at Time magazine put a shocking image of a sexy woman nursing a young boy in army fatigues on the cover of their magazine, their intention was to create controversy and sell magazines.

(If you haven’t seen the article, you can read Katherine Stone’s review of it, but I refuse to republish their image nor send them any links. I encourage you to also not reward Time by clicking through to their article. And please do NOT buy the magazine.)

Media must make money to exist. Even this blog is a form of media that must make money to exist. I don’t cast blame for the need to profit.

But we as media consumers must stand up and say we are sick of this negative campaigning to exploit mothers and create controversy and animosity surrounding parenting decisions.

I believe there are some basic facts that media need to learn:

  1. FACT #1: Mommy Wars Do Not Exist
    Media constantly pit mothers who make different parenting choices against each other and try to start fights. In reality, most mothers are just trying to find what works for their families.
     
  2. FACT #2: Mothering Is Hard Work Regardless Of Your Parenting Style
    Every mother works ridiculously hard and sacrifices for her children.
     
  3. FACT #3: Most Mothers Prefer To Support Each Other
    It may not sell magazines or initiate pageviews, but most women actually like to support and be kind to each other.

Let’s spread the message that we mothers are tired of the manipulative myth of “Mommy Wars”.

Being a mother is hard enough, get out of our way!

Written by Susan, co-founder of this Mom Blog 5 Minutes for Mom

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Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carla May 10, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I could not agree more! The whole “mommy wars” discussion prompted me to start a new series on my blog. If we “invade the airwaves” with our own stories, they can’t tell us we’re “at war” right?

Here’s a link to the project with details on how to participate: http://allofmenow.com/2012/04/how-the-mommy-wars-was-won/
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2 Susan May 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I love your new series Carla and your attitude… yes we must fill the airwaves with positivity and stories of truth.

Thank you!
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3 Lauryn May 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm

What a beautifully written acrticle. It saddens me greatly to see women pitted agaisnt other women. Not just in issues regarding parenting, but in many ways. So often I see and hear comments made by one women to another. Unfortunitly, these comments are not always supportive, sometimes, they are not positive and still others, they are downright nasty. The media thrives on it. They instigate this behavior. They even strive to intensify and exploit it.
It is true – we all have differences of opinions. How refreshing to hear that someone else feels these differences are ok! That we can have them and still learn from one another! Enough negativity exists without the media, or anyone else, disrespecting our desicions.
Support is a beautiful and comforting thing. Lets offer it to each other more.

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4 Susan May 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thank you Lauryn. I agree it’s so upsetting to watch women tear each other down. It does happen and more often than we’d like. But as you say, the media thrives on it and they intensify it. Much like the schoolyard bystanders shouting “Fight, Fight”.

But the more we reach out and support each other – and remind our friends when they fall into the trap of negativity – the more connected and happy our mom community will be.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
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5 Heather May 10, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Mommy “wars” may be a bit of an overstatement, but I do think that in some circles, there tends to be a bit of mommy “olympics” where moms feel the need to compete with one another and every mom thinks her own way is best. It’s not all the time and it’s not always severe, but it definitely exists.
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6 Susan May 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

I think you’re right Heather. “Wars” is definitely an overstatement used by media to sell stories.

And as you said, many mothers do end up acting competitively toward others. It’s unfortunate and I think a sort of natural instinct that we women need to fight against within ourselves. We so desperately want the best for our children, that we feel we need to compete with other moms and prove to ourselves and to others that we’re doing a good job.

But the more we remind each other not to compete, the better.
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7 ConnieFoggles May 11, 2012 at 12:05 am

And what perfect timing, close to Mother’s Day in the US. Time Magazine is definitely using the front cover to shock us, to get us to write about the article (which doesn’t have much to do with the photo) and to link bait us. Shame on you, Time Magazine!
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8 Susan May 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Yes, I thought the timing wasn’t cool… and such obvious link bait.
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9 Beth May 11, 2012 at 1:11 am

The headline of “Are You Mom Enough?” irritates me no end.
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10 Susan May 16, 2012 at 8:12 pm

I know… that heading is so annoying.
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11 Taryn May 11, 2012 at 2:47 am

Wonderfully written, but not sure I agree… Especially when it comes to the breast vs bottle question. Just take a look at the debate around Scary Mommy’s satirical Time cover on facebook and you’ll see what I mean!

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12 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Taryn, unfortunately you are right in that there does exist a significant amount of hostile debate amongst some moms about certain hot topic parenting decisions. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not an full on war with all attachment parenting moms on one side against everyone else. And it’s not SAHM vs Working Moms etc as the media often tries to portray.

There are many (I like to think most) moms in each category that are able to respectfully disagree with others on issues and recognize that each mom has the right to make her own decisions.

But what does happen in all areas of life, the negative ones make the most noise. So while most moms who practised extended breastfeeding would never insult a mother who couldn’t breastfeed or chose not to breastfeed, people will never hear from them. They’ll hear from the few who shout out horrible nonsense.

The situation gets worse when the media elevates the voice of the few negative sources and ignore the majority of positive ones.

I’m a huge fan of Scary Mommy and she is a personal friend, but I stay away from forum discussions that are negative and hurtful. I refuse to invest my time in reading hateful words. So I admit because of my habit of listening to the positive and ignoring the negative, I may end up having my view biased more positively. But it sure is a happier way to live. :)
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13 Sam May 11, 2012 at 7:20 am

Mommy wars do exist in mommy groups. Believe it! I ended up leaving groups due to all the wars. It felt like high school all over again. It seriously boiled down to Ap moms and non Ap moms.

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14 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm

I’m so sorry to hear that Sam. As I said in my comment earlier to Taryn, my experiences have tended to be more positive than that… but unfortunately I know it does happen.

Unfortunately women in social groups can sometimes end up forming groups within groups or cliques based on certain shared qualities… and often that can have negative effects. If someone in one sub-group feels threatened, angered or hurt by another woman, she’ll look to her clique for support and they’ll then “gang” up on the other woman. Then she’ll look to her closest friends for support and division – perhaps even war – will occur.

My position is that while these upsets do happen, there is not an all out war going on between the AP and non-AP communities. I straddle both communities and have close friends in both and I’ve never personally felt a war. I’ve spoken with hundreds of women from both sides and felt mostly positivity.

My hope is that each of us will try to diffuse any such fights that we experience in our lives online and offline. We want to teach our children to be respectful and we want to behave respectfully for our own benefit, for each others and so that our general community of “moms” is respected.
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15 Lindsay May 11, 2012 at 8:25 am

While I agree with the sentiment of your post, I disagree that “mommy wars” don’t exist. I’ve written about it on my own blog (http://www.lindsayblogs.com/2012/05/10/the-mommy-wars/) but it seems that mothers DO tend to cut each other down over differing parenting choices and it breaks my heart. Motherhood is hard enough with having a justify our choices to other (non-interested) parties.

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16 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Lindsay, I just read and commented at your post. This was my reply to your post…
“Lindsay, I agree with you…. we should NOT be tearing each other down but building each other up.

And the fact that I and all these other women agree with you shows us that the war isn’t as big as the media wants us to think.

Yes, there are a loud few shouting out absurdities, but the majority are quietly happy to make their own decisions and let others do as they wish.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of women and never had one of them make me feel guilty or wrong for choosing to breastfeed my girls until they were 2 each. I had many women be surprised or tease me a little that I’ll never be able to wean them. But nothing I couldn’t handle with a confident and polite reply.

Unless you fight back, there can’t be a war. I don’t let myself hear or engage in the negative garbage out there, so I may be more biased towards a positive view. ”
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17 kelli May 11, 2012 at 8:35 am

Well played, my friend! Well played.

Do women disagree on things? Heck. yes.
Do we take things to extremes, verbally, sometimes? Heck. yes.
Do we know how/when to push buttons when we need/want to? Heck. Heck. YES!

But “war”.

PLEASSSSSSSE.

I was not the first of my friends to get married, but the first to get married and have a child soon after (about 2 years day to day). So-
After nursing my perfect, but preemie, baby girl from moment one (she was an immediate Pro, I caught on soon after with her help), I became the Nursing Hotline 24/7 for all my friends when their little bundles came along.

We talked, cried and survived through many a Nursing Nightmare Moment, but with every call- all 4 of those involved (and sometimes even an eavesdropping husband) came away from the experience feeling just a little bit better about this mystery called Motherhood.

We talked what to/not to eat and when, the Football and the Traditional hold, one friend even introduced me to the nursing pillow. What A LIFESAVER for my back. And that from a newbie nurser to the old dog with her second “24/7 Football only Nurser” who felt his mission in life was to eat. And cuddle his mommy. While eating….

We gathered support from each other, whatever time of day or night. Many a pediatrician got a good night’s sleep because of the growing numbers i our Call Tree.

And many new friends were introduced as new moms were “born” and some vets were “weaned” out.

Some nursed for weeks, some for moths, some even for more than just a couple years. But, no matter our personla feelings or choices- conversations were respectful, insightful and we all learned things from each other. 24/7.

No, we did not war TIME magazine.

We were Switzerland, where all were welcome, no matter our choices.

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18 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm

I LOVE your story!!!

How beautiful. I have goosebumps.
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19 Leah Segedie May 11, 2012 at 9:54 am

I believe mommy wars exist, But I don’t see That as anything newsworthy. Women have been bickering since the beginning of time fighting over issues of control in a world that gives us a limited amount. In fact, I think it was Maslow (the psychologist that created the pyramid of needs) that stated he actually liked it when women bickered because it meant they were being fed and taken care of so they had the time to waste on smaller needs and fight over them. To him it represented a society with less strife, war, etc.

I kind of agree with him. When we aren’t fighting a defined enemy, like terrorists after 9/11, we are fighting each other. I’m okay with that. But most of the time, I just choose to lay low when this is occurring. And I think a bunch of the smarter mom bloggers do the same. We’ve all seen this before. We know how it ends and we know that it’s better to have friends. :)

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20 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Ha ha Leah… you’re a wise woman.

Yes, Maslow was right… the fact we can fight over what type of diapers means we at least HAVE diapers etc.

And yes, many bloggers choose to lay low and remember that it’s better to have friends than have “won” an argument.
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21 Teressa Ryan/Nashvegasgal May 11, 2012 at 10:12 am

It is very true as mothers, women and just as human beings we need and seek all the support we can muster. “Mommy Wars” was coined with an agenda. I will be showcasing your post on my own blog this week. This issue calls to be laid to rest before it grains momentum.Thanks for stepping up and bravely confronting such a contrived myth!
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22 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Thank you Teressa!
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23 Serene Motherhood May 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

Thank you for this article, I agree…

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24 Tricia Nightowlmama May 13, 2012 at 2:49 am

I couldn’t agree MORE!!!
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25 Ashley - Embracing Beauty May 14, 2012 at 11:06 am

While I love the ideas behind this post I must disagree that these wars don’t exist. I’ve watched women tear each other down in person, Facebook walls, online groups, and on and on. I wrote what I hope was a “gentle” response to the controversy here: http://embracingbeauty.com/2012/05/13/are-you-mom-enough-mommy-wars-controversy/ I hope you don’t mind that I added a link back here to your article.

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26 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:35 pm

You wrote a fantastic post on your site Ashley. And I agree with what you say and I think we are all mom enough to support each other.

As I’ve said in several of my comment replies here, I think my personal view that there is less of a war than the media presents is biased b/c I refuse to participate or even read any negativity online.
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27 Gina B May 14, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Mom vs. mom? No way. I know all kinds of moms all over the country, many who’ve I befriended, some are are different from me as I can possibly imagine. Not only that, but I’ve connected people over this spectrum of difference. To be honest, I see moms coming together more often than not, especially now with the economy as bad as it is, and the burden of it falling on so many kids and so many moms. It’s upsetting to me that we still have to argue about “mommy wars”, that magazines still publish this nonsense, when in reality I think we are coming together to figure out how to make a better future for our kids with schools in trouble, the economy so hurt, and childhood diseases and disabilities on the rise. Moms need each other, not a schoolyard fight.
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28 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Exactly! I’m so happy you’ve experienced such positivity. Let’s keep spreading that kind of love.
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29 Jen E May 15, 2012 at 11:56 am

SO so true! Great post!

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30 Susan May 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm

Thanks Jen!
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31 Danijela May 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

Hello, you have a great article here. I agree with you completely. I just can’t believe what big magazines are willing to do just to make a sell. Sometimes it is just too much, like this time!
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