Dr. Phil: Guilty of Starting a Mommy War?

by Leslie Morgan Steiner

 

God, even the title of the show made me cringe.

 

Guilty Moms: The Debate That Never Dies” was the headline for the Wednesday October 14, 2009 Dr Phil Show.

 

Phil’s sensitive-wise-man intro prolonged my wincing.

 

“This show is the best we have ever done on the important challenges both types of moms face. In fact, something took place that’s never happened before in the history of Dr. Phil.”

 

Meaning that guest/blogger/saint/at-home-mom Jessica Gottlieb had dared to speak her truth in front of all the at-home moms watching TV at 3 p.m. in the afternoon (and Dr. Phil is paraphrasing here):

 

“If a woman is so selfish she can’t stay at home with her kids, then maybe she just shouldn’t have them!”

 

That’s the earth shattering view from daytime TV.

 

Please raise your pinky if you are sooo past all this.

 

Now I’ve often thought I should not have had kids. In fact, once or twice I’ve been tempted to rip out my uterus with my own hands. But it’s never, ever because I don’t have time for my children. Quite the contrary. My worst moments are always when I’m spending TOO MUCH time with them. If Ms. Gottlieb wants to swing by my house to give my kids some of that nurturing she thinks they’re missing, honey, come on down! Just get here quick before the neighbors’ windows shatter from my decibel levels.

 

A few things to ponder that were not settled by Dr. Phil on Wednesday.

 

First, let’s not leave out the dads. We American women have fought hard for decades for gender equality, so let’s give some back. Do daytime talk shows tar-and-feather MEN if they don’t spend “enough” time with their kids? When was the last TV show titled “Guilty Dads?” University of Maryland sociology data shows that dads with employed wives actually do more with their children. When is Dr. Phil going to do a show about THAT?

 

Second: If the Jessica Gottliebs of the world can judge me, I get to judge them too. My vote is that anyone who degrades other mothers’ choices automatically loses her parenting license. I sure don’t want the children of the future to have those sanctimonious mamacitas as role models. Or, to paraphrase here, “If a woman can’t raise her kids to be tolerant of others’ different lifestyle choices, then maybe she just shouldn’t have kids!”

 

Third, if this debate is really about what’s best for kids, let’s ask our kids. Not a slew of judgmental other moms. And most definitely not Dr. Phil.

mom2five
11.04.09

I don't even know where to begin. I cannot fully express the disgust I feel for the moron who did start this ridiculous debate. There is NO debate! All these self-righteous moms or people that think they have any right to judge a mom that isn't at home every minute of the day, should take a hard look in the mirror for what they are teaching their kids. I am a full time mom with a full time job and I stand so strongly behind that, you better watch out! I am raising 2 wonderful little boys, who I am teaching that a woman is every bit a strong and independent as a man. I show them that you can make a life for yourself and children filled with so much love that they would never resent me working. Working is a part of life. Teaching them good work ethic and that a woman just doesn't belong barefoot in the kitchen is worth way more to my boys than you could ever understand! The point is this,my babies have NEVER doubted my love for them or the unlimited lengths I would go for them, because I have a job that supports us. If anything they appreciate that they have a parent who is striving to give them the best life possible. It gives them another view on women and that they should appreciate a woman's strengths as they do a man's. I juggle and multi-task so many things on top of my job that my 6yr old refers to me as Super Mom! To be ashamed of that would be incredibly ignorant. So I'll say this last. For you ridiculous moms that think you are any better a parent for being stuck at home, you better wake up and join the 2oth century!Working moms are taking the world by storm, Don't be Jealous! There's room for all kinds of moms, don't down anyone else for your false sense of what you think a mom should be. My kids are happy, are yours?

Mom101
10.24.09

A-freaking-men, Leslie.

I wrote nearly three years ago here: http://www.mom-101.com/2006/11/sanctimommy.html that "while the Sanctimommy is quick to deem others unfit mothers...she's reluctant to look as closely at herself."

But the truth is, I don't care what some sanctimommy on a TV show has to say about my choices. Her attitude is really only hurting her own children; it doesn't impact me a single bit.

Workin It
10.21.09

Leslie, can you help me understand your outrage over Dr. Phil's show, when the title of your book is:

"Mommy Wars: Stay-at-Home and Career Moms Face Off on Their Choices, Their Lives, Their Families"

Pardon me for saying so, but this "if you judge me, I get to judge you" commentary isn't helping anyone and reminds me too much of the third grade.

We need a better discussion. Instead of "facing off" with each other about the way we live our lives, how about we think about what kind of society we are living in, that makes it impossible for any mother to ever be good enough, no matter what she does.

You may want to read "This Is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today" by Kristin Maschka. She believes that it is hidden assumptions -- "Mental Maps" such as, "Mothers are responsible for, and naturally better at caregiving" that influences our thoughts, beliefs and actions. Until we redraw those maps, we have little hope of laying these "wars" to rest.

And Leslie, no hard feelings. I do commend you for bringing dads into this discussion. Indeed, they are a big piece of this puzzle.

http://whitecrayonmom.blogspot.com/2009/10/mothers-vs-outdated-mental-ma...

AHancock
10.21.09

Sorry for all the spelling errors in my previous post. This topic just gets me so aggitated! :)

AHancock
10.21.09

I find it funny (or diplorable, disgusting, humorous, insert appropriate emotion here) that this debate was started by a MAN. The previous poster was right, there is not a person out there who bashes dads for working full time, so why do mommies catch all the flack? Reading this was like a mirror to my own views on this topic. Bravo Leslie, for speaking up for us. And who does this judgemental woman think she is for going on Dr. Phil and bashing other parent's choices? We could just as easily judge her choice to go on the show and subject her kids to the "horrors" of television. I didn't see the show, but did they visit her home and meet her children? They ae probably scarred for life! I say that in jest, but seriously, come on people, let's get off the judgemental bandwagon! I completely agree that anyone who outright criticizes another woman's parenting style should have their parenting card yanked. We are all entitled our own opinion, but why not create a culture of support for other moms? I never thought I would be one, but when it happened, I was under the impression that I was joining and elite group of women who knew exactly how I was feeling and we could support each other. I had no idea that I would be thrown into a combat zone!

leslie morgan s...
10.21.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Dear Workin It -- I totally understand your frustration with my book's title and subtitle, particularly the words "face off." It's just a title...and there is no facing off or judgment in the actual book. Just 26 wonderfully candid essays by 26 different moms. Titles are sometimes about marketing. If we had called this "26 Really Wonderful Mommies Tell You How Hard Motherhood Is" no one would have bought the book, I'm sorry to say.

leslie morgan s...
10.21.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Kathleen -- I hear you. You are taking care of your family and child(ren) when you work. It dumbfounds me that providing longterm economic stability for our families is NOT seen as an essential ingredient of good parenting -- for moms, at least! Women are derided as "selfish" for the very qualities men are championed for. It makes absolutely no sense. Can you imagine a man being called selfish for getting up at 5:30 am to go to work to support his family? It just doesn't happen.

Keep up the good work! There are lots of us who admire working moms -- it's only a few flamethrowers who are so vocal about making us feel bad. There are 80 million different moms in the US and just as many approaches to raising mature, hardworking children and taking care of ourselves too.

leslie morgan s...
10.21.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Kathleen -- I hear you. You are taking care of your family and child(ren) when you work. It dumbfounds me that providing longterm economic stability for our families is NOT seen as an essential ingredient of good parenting -- for moms, at least! Women are derided as "selfish" for the very qualities men are championed for. It makes absolutely no sense. Can you imagine a man being called selfish for getting up at 5:30 am to go to work to support his family? It just doesn't happen.

Keep up the good work! There are lots of us who admire working moms -- it's only a few flamethrowers who are so vocal about making us feel bad. There are 80 million different moms in the US and just as many approaches to raising mature, hardworking children and taking care of ourselves too.

leslie morgan s...
10.21.09

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Kathleen -- I hear you. You are taking care of your family and child(ren) when you work. It dumbfounds me that providing longterm economic stability for our families is NOT seen as an essential ingredient of good parenting -- for moms, at least! Women are derided as "selfish" for the very qualities men are championed for. It makes absolutely no sense. Can you imagine a man being called selfish for getting up at 5:30 am to go to work to support his family? It just doesn't happen.

Keep up the good work! There are lots of us who admire working moms -- it's only a few flamethrowers who are so vocal about making us feel bad. There are 80 million different moms in the US and just as many approaches to raising mature, hardworking children and taking care of ourselves too.

dnetburn
10.21.09

As a working mom, I will admit that I get a little judgmental of totally overwhelmed stay-at-home moms. I remember from my four months of maternity leave how difficult staying at home can be--and I have tons of respect for people who choose to do it permanently. It's a demanding job! But don't complain about it all the time if it is a choice you've made. Because it is a choice. And if you hate it, then maybe you should look for a job.

Or am I being too harsh? I'm curious what you guys think.