Hybrid Moms: The sides in the “mommy wars” don’t exist

mother helping kids with homework

I recently conducted a webinar for Mothers & More on the 6 Biggest Money Mistakes Mothers Make, and I wanted to share my answer to a participant question because it so neatly ties to the also recent – and recurring – media flare up about the “mommy wars” and “SAHM’s” and “working mothers.”

Q: Is it correct to assume that, as with your example, most women are neither a SAHM or a full time working for pay throughout life? We seem like hybrids while everyone is trying – especially the media – to put us into a box.

A. Yes! Excellent observation!

Credit Sue Zampareilli – for This is Not How I Thought It Would Be

Mothers are usually described as either “stay at home” or “working mom” –  both of which are terms I hate. I prefer “mothers who are employed” and “mothers who are not employed.” (Read why here.)  Our employment patterns are far more complex.
If I had a backyard barbecue for twenty couples and their kids (and we actually do this regularly) here’s how the twenty mothers and twenty fathers would likely be employed. Of the fathers, eighteen would be employed full-time, more than thirty-five hours a week. Just one would be employed part-time, and one wouldn’t be employed. Of the mothers, only ten would be employed full-time, four part-time, and six wouldn’t be employed at all. And of the ones employed full-time? Only one would be working extensive overtime – 50+ hours a week – which most of us think as the REAL full-time schedule.

If I invited the same group back again five years later, the mothers would be much more likely to have shifted their employment up or down in response to additional children or the ages of their children. The mothers would be much more likely to have left the workforce for family reasons.
Rare is  the mother who is never employed  when her kids are 0 to 18, and rare is the mother who has never altered her employment when her kids are 0 to 18. Thus, making the sides in the media’s “mommy war” virtually non existent.

~ Kristin

Catalyze!: Avoid using the terms “SAHM” and “working mom” yourself. See alternatives in this post.

2 thoughts on “Hybrid Moms: The sides in the “mommy wars” don’t exist

  1. Yes, let’s get rid of the labels “SAHM” and “Working Mother.” Not only does it invoke a sense of separatism between moms, but it provides an inaccurate view of who we are and what we do. I see all moms as “working” whether they are employed or not. And since some of us work from home, I suppose we’re also “SAHMs” too.

    1. Exactly! I hate the “work at home” mom term too because as you point out it’s not accurate either! Easiest thing is simply to separate employment from the motherhood role when we talk about it. http://kmaschka.wpengine.com/2010/01/28/why-we-need-to-get-rid-of-the-terms-sahm-and-working-mother/

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