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.


HALLELUJAH! AMEN! THANK YOU! I love that you wrote this and how you wrote it.

I would love to be my kid! I might no longer be married to her father. I might work full time. BUT, I make sure her life is filled with love, laughter, creativity, structure, opportunity, challenges and possibility. I am by no means "the perfect parent" but I give it my all like every parent should regardless if you are working or not.

Red Lotus Mama


Let's not forget that women now outnumber men in the workplace, there are just as many stay at home dads as there are moms, and in the end what makes a happy and healthy kid are loving and caring parent(s).

I have enough fun living up to my own expectations, my husband's expectations, my kids expectations... oh, honey, I ain't got time to try and live up to someone else's expectations, too. Seriously. If this woman has so much time to spend criticizing other moms, maybe she should get a real job.

And yeah, I'd be happy as my own kid, too.


Will this argument ever end? I plan to work when I have kids a concept that drives my mom, who was a single working mom, crazy. I know it is because still, I am now 28, she feels guilty for working to which I always have to ask her; so would it have been better to stay at home and go on welfare? Because the way I see it that was the only other choice. Instead she worked her way up to CFO of a large company and I love to brag about her all the time. Point is, I agree, ask your kids what they think.


Great write-up and commentary. In the good words of Hilary Clinton, "It takes a village." Let's not waste energy and our community by burning each other's hatches.


Thanks for this great post. Just the right amout of snarkiness and disbelief! I happened to see that episode after someone on Twitter mentioned it was on. I was horrified. At Hybrid Mom we preach everything BUT "mommy wars" And in Dr. Phil's "uncensored video" on his website, he invited people to tweet him to weigh in. I tweeted all right. But got no response. Surprised?


Wow you totally nailed it. Really, that is all that is boils down to. And we all need to stop looking over fences and judging and comparing and just get on with our own lives and parenting.
I have been struggling with a newborn THIRD child and trying to do the BEST as an uber mom and really..I need to just relax...get help when needed and do the best I can..but not at the cost of my health and my family.
Awesome post.


I am saddened that so much time and media money is wasted on pitting moms against each other. There is so much that we could accomplish by uniting for good causes, despite our differing views. It is just ridiculous in my opinion. This is EXACTLY why I created the True Femme site. It is high time we drop the pettiness and learn to support each other. We are teaching our daughters to be discriminatory and petty. Not a good eample in my eyes.

leslie morgan s...

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Thanks, Ginny. Every single time I make a mistake as a parent, I pat myself on the back! And I tell my kids all the time that I'm not perfect, that even adults make mistakes, we all do. I hope it helps them. It sure helps me!


Leslie--Loved this article, but loved your comment even better! I am a child of the "perfect" set of parents . And those 2 points are EXACTLY the message I received and battle every single day. And, most of all, I stress over how to prevent passing those same messages on to my children. Thanks for putting my thoughts into words so well!

leslie morgan s...

Leslie Morgan Steiner

Also -- note to self -- being "perfect" is a terrible quality in a parent. Because the ultimate message to your kids is that a) being perfect is really important and b) it's okay to strive for perfection and end up feeling awful all the time.

Wynnona Judd once said that striving for perfection is the highest form of self abuse possible.