The Mommy Wars: The Stay-at-Homes vs. the Working Moms

Posted May 16, 2008 by

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I was on the phone with a good friend of mine the other day when she stopped me cold with a comment about working moms. She said, “I never wanted to put my kids in daycare. I could never do that to my children.” It took me aback because 1) I’m a working mom and 2) I’ve never thought that having my son in daycare was a form of torture for him, or that it made me less of a parent somehow. As usual, I got flustered and said something like, “Er, well, it hasn’t been that bad…”

I’ll tell you the truth, though—putting our child in daycare when he was 12 weeks old was one of the hardest things I’ve ever personally had to do. But a funny thing happened as the months went by. I realized that having my son in a childcare program wasn’t the worst thing imaginable after all. It’s actually helped me to be a better, less neurotic parent (notice that I just said “less”), and our son is extremely social, will jump into nearly any situation with abandon, and has learned a whole slew of cool things from being exposed to a lot of teachers and kids with different backgrounds than our own.

By the way, I am by no means limiting this to stay-at-home moms who disparage career moms. I’ve had working moms say things that were just as horrible, like, “How could anyone stay at home? Aren’t they completely bored?” Sometimes people have even implied that women who stay at home to raise their kids are less intelligent somehow, as if raising a child brings down a woman’s IQ. Please! Since I’m a writer and work from home part-time now, I’ve kind of straddled the fence of stay-at-home vs. working moms in recent years. I will tell you that for me, raising a child has required every brain cell I’ve got pinging around in my dusty old noggin, and has often times been much harder than going into a nice, orderly office where people don’t spit up on you or throw tantrums. (Well, not usually, anyway.)

So what’s with all the judgment we heap on each other? The whole thing is starting to feel a little too much like the Sharks and the Jets from Westside Story. My theory: I think that mothers (and fathers, too) can sometimes feel like no matter what we do, it’s not enough somehow, or not the right thing. I’ve had stay-at-home mom friends wistfully tell me about dreams they’ve given up for good, and I’ve had working mom friends get emotional over time they missed out on with their kids. Sometimes I feel like we just don’t give ourselves—and each other— enough of a break. Instead of lifting each other up, I’ve realized that when we judge, all we’re succeeding in doing is tearing each other down.

They even have a term for this—it’s called “The Mommy Wars.” But hey, war among moms is not the answer. We all know this is a really hard job, “The toughest job you’ll ever love,” as the old slogan goes. We’ve got to help and support each other through parenting, not rip each other to shreds. The truth is, we’re all doing the best we can and we love our kids to pieces. Shouldn’t that be enough?

I think we need to come up with a slogan that shuts down the judgment. Something like, “This is what works for my family, and I’m sure you’ll agree that everybody has to figure that out for themselves.”

What I also want to say is, “Remember, we’re all in this together.”

I’d love to hear your ideas on this one. We can start a judgment-free movement, right here and now.

Imagine that.

About

Elisabeth Wilkins was the editor of Empowering Parents and the mother of an 10-year-old son. Her work has appeared in national and international publications, including Mothering, Motherhood (Singapore), Hausfrau, The Bad Mother Chronicles, and The Japan Times. Elisabeth holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine.

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  1. Michilli (Edit) Report

    I know I am jumping in at the tail end of this- But I just have to insert my two cents-

    My mother worked while I was growing up- I am not any less of a person because of it. I have a great job, great income and turned out pretty good!

    I have two children, intend on having one more, and I work. Guess what? My kids are turning out just fine!

    Everyone needs to relax and “get off of it” for a while.

    Most of the time I think the mom’s that complain/chastise the moms who work secretly want to be working, and the moms that chastise the stay at homers really would like to be at home.

    Who really cares? Isn’t the goal to raise happy, healthy, well adjusted children?

    Everyone needs to grow up and knock it off already.

    My decision is mine, your’s is yours. You know what’s right and best for you and your family.

    No one is better or mightier because you work or stay at home. Enough already. Give it a rest! We are all moms, don’t we have enough to do to keep us bust besides arguing about this? 🙂

    Reply
  2. chocgirl (Edit) Report

    Hey people,

    TWO MAIN THINGS catch my attention as I daily wrestle with this question

    (I’m a working mom with 3 kids, and have also stayed at home many years with them…)

    DO WE TRULY VALUE MONEY while “OTHERS RAISE”
    OUR CHILDREN??? (as mentioned by FULLTIMEMOM earlier in the thread)

    ARE THESE PEOPLE (who judge) RAISING YOUR KIDS AND PAYING YOUR BILLS??? (as mentioned by BECKY earlier)

    I personally am trying to live with a FINAL conclusion that I have come up with to this whole important scenario, where people’s lives are at stake…

    This is in order of importance…

    1.IF YOU CAN STAY HOME AND RUN A BUSINESS, DO SO…
    (be creative) Is there a way at all
    if possible not to work? Can some costs be
    cut? cheaper place to live?

    WHEN WE SIT DOWN TO REALLY THINK, MANY OF US ARE LIVING ABOVE OUR MEANS AND CAN DO WITHOUT SOME THINGS…EX: expensive, gas
    guzzler SUVs or VANs, that BIG house (unless you have large family)…

    2. WORK PART-TIME IF NECESSARY (you get
    the best of…OH YEAH…(Hannah Montana)
    BOTH WORLDS by working AND spending quality
    time with your children

    3. IF YOU CAN’T, THEN WORK FT (understanding, however, that there will be a price to pay in terms of who’s raising the children…CREATIVE WAYS will have to take root on how to BEST GET THAT QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR KIDS)

    It’s my understanding that the CHINESE value family so much that a COMMITTMENT is made each day for the family to EAT TOGETHER
    DAILY…this means, that NO MATTER WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON, they make that committment to spend time together with the family eating a HOME COOKED MEAL DAILY…

    The Chinese also do not believe in buying expensive, HUGE HOUSES, because they beleive that if the house is TOO BIG, the family becomes ISOLATED…

    (I’ve seen these things first hand…I tutor a friend’s son who is Chinese, understanding, however, that the above statements are generalizations, and may not apply to all Chinese… I mentioned these things in the post because I learn much from Asian cultures about the IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY)

    I hope this helps add balance to the arguments presented regarding the issue of whether moms should stay at home or work…

    Chocgirl

    Reply
  3. Colleen (Edit) Report

    I actually think it’s better to talk about these things than pretend they don’t exist. I ended up sending this article to my sister-in-law and we had a great talk about the different ways we parent, and some differences we’ve had about it in the past. (I’m an at-home mom and she works.) We both realized we were being a little too judgmental for no good reason. So thank you!!

    Reply
  4. S.W (Edit) Report

    I am totally digusted with the this whole debate. What is to discuss, either you stay at home or you do’nt! END OF STORY. If more people looked after what was going on in their own homes, and kept their opinions to themselves, rather than sticking there nose in other peoples business there would’nt be half of these problems. What are we teaching our kids by doing this? THINK ABOUT IT PEOPLE. All our children are learning from this, is to run other people and their way of life into the dirt. This is why there is so much bullying. Your kids are learning it from you! What do you think your kids are learning when they hear you talking about people on welfare, people that stay at home, people that work, or what ever the case may be? All this tells them, is to have the same close minded mantality as you do. This is no different than teaching our children to be racist. Get real people, instead of sitting there judgeing others, teach your children love and tolerence for others, teach your children to have an open mind. In the meantime, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHAT THE NEIGHBOR DOES!!
    And for the record I have 3 wonderful children who are loved by ME, as well as their Dad, all of our family, and many friends.

    Reply
  5. Jenny40 (Edit) Report

    whoa. This is some arguement. Not taking sides but you know “It takes a village”. And some in those village are working and some are staying home and some are doing something in between. So let’s not judge each other – let’s find ways to support each other.
    What you may term one person’s financial excuses might be someone else’s financial reality (think paying mortages/rent and having everyone in the family have insurance).
    Let’s try to work together to have a society that is not judging each other – and working together no matter what the race, religion, working, not working … to create a place where our children will flourish. End the ‘mommy wars’ before our kids hear us fighting…

    Reply
  6. Amy L (Edit) Report

    Hello Moms,

    I understand both types of moms. I too was a stay at home mom who chose to work at the school my children attended (to be there for them). I soon realized that I was there but was not always available to them. I also have seen positives and negatives about the issue. I am now going to stay at home next year with my four year old daughter; I personally do not want to have any regrets when I am on my death bed. I am blessed to be able to do this but I definitly understand when a mom has no choice. I truly want to encourage all moms to not debate on this issue but to truly embrace it. We are not all the same so why are we categorizing ourselves. We should be happy that we have the privilege to be MOM in any way we can working or not.

    Reply
  7. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    Hi Everyone. I just want to thank you all for your insightful comments and for sharing your experiences here. One thing that has come out of this debate for me: whether working or at home, almost every mom has written about how much they value time spent with their kids. As Tracey said, “We all win because we all love our children.” So however you work it out at your house, you have my respect and admiration for what you do every day—the most important job on the planet.

    Reply
  8. Mary (Edit) Report

    I also straddle the fence as a professional part-time employee. I really enjoyed this article and do see things quite the same. However if I could afford to stay home all the time I would. I appreciated all the help I received from the lady who watched my son while I worked. She taught me so much about child care and I would have been lost without her. It doesn’t matter what I achieved at work, my heart was longing to be home raising my child. After working full time for the first 2 years, I turned down a very successful position to be part-time. It was not a demotion it was a choice. After 10 years I have no regrets. My family comes first. I do have more criticism from full time co-workers, who think I am foolish than from stay at home moms. I think my co-workers are just jealous- lol. Life is good.

    Reply
  9. LISA V! (Edit) Report

    AND TO TERESA: WHO HAS EXPERIENCED THE ROLE REVERSAL: IT SOUNDS LIKE YOUR HUBBY STAYING HOME WORKS FOR YOU TOO! OUR FIRST YEAR WAS HARD DUE TO “SOCIETY” & “SOCIAL” BELIEFS, BUT IT’S SO NATURAL NOW WE THINK NOTHING OF IT. OUR FAMILIES & FRIENDS THINK ITS AWESOME THAT A MAN CAN RUN THE HOME!

    Reply
  10. LISA V! (Edit) Report

    WOW!! AFTER READING SOME OF THESE COMMENTS I HAVE TO WONDER WHY ARE SO MANY MOMS ARE SO DEFENSIVE. I’M SURE WE ALL AGREE WE DESERVE A TIARA OR TROPHY OF SOME SORT. BUT THE TRUTH IS LADIES, IT’S A PERSONAL CHOICE & NONE OF YOU ARE LESS THAN A WOMAN OR MOTHER WHATEVER CHOICE YOU MAKE. KIDS WILL BE KIDS & IN THEIR TEENS DO WHAT THEY WANT BEHIND OUR BACKS ANYWAY, I KNOW I DID BEHIND MY PARENTS & THEY GAVE ME A GREAT HOME. I DIDNT FULLY APPRECIATE WHAT THEY DID FOR ME TILL I HAD KIDS OF MY OWN.

    I GAVE UP MY CAREER TO STAY HOME & RAISE CHILDREN. I WANTED NOTHING MORE THAN TO HAVE THE WHITE PICKET FENCE REALITY SHOW. I KEPT MYSELF IN THE BEST OF SHAPE (B CUZ I HAD TIME), COOKED LIKE AN EXPERT CHEF, YOU COULD BRUSH YOUR TEETH FROM THE TOILET BOWL BECAUSE THE HOUSE WAS OBSESSIVELY CLEAN & HAD A GREAT TIME WITH MY DAUGHTER – BORN 1993. SHE’S 14 NOW, AND YES THINKS SHE’S 21 & BELIEVES SHE SHOULD HAVE EVERY RIGHT I HAVE. IN 97 MY HUSBAND & I HAD OUR 2ND CHILD, A SON. PERFECT HUH? ONE OF EACH. STILL ENJOYING MY ROLE AS A STAY AT HOME MOM, HOUSEWIFE, WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, I WAS NEVER OFFENDED BY THE TITLE ANYONE GAVE ME. SCREW POLITICALLY CORRECT! WHEN MY SON WAS 2 YRS I FOUND OUT MY HUSBAND WAS HAVING AN AFFAIR. NOT JUST AN OOPSY, AN AFFAIR THAT STARTED WHEN MY DAUGHTER WAS ABOUT 2. WHICH MEANS IT WENT ON THRU MY ENTIRE SECOND PREGNANCY-GET IT? I WAS CRUSHED!!! WE SEPARATED,GOT BAC 2 GETHER & FINALLY I THREW HIM OUT EASTER SUNDAY 2000. WELL, WHAT’S A GAL TO DO? GET A JOB! HE OWNED AN IRRIGATION COMPANY & OUR FINANCIAL SITUATION WAS VERY GOOD & I THOUGHT THE KIDS & I COULD SURVIVE OFF OF THE ALIMONY & CHILD SUPPORT & I WOULDNT HAVE 2 GO BACK TO WORK. AS WE ALL KNOW OR HAVE READ, THE $ STOPPED. HE’S BEEN IN & OUT OF JAIL FOR LACK OF SUPPORT & WE’VE BEEN IN COURT FOR 8 YRS. NOW. THE COMPANY WAS SEIZED BY THE IRS.

    THE GOOD NEWS IS I DID GO BACK TO WORK. I AM NOW VICE PRESIDENT OF TWO COMPANIES-ONE IN MEMPHIS, ONE IN DALLAS. IT BROKE MY HEART TO CHANGE MY LIFE STYLE BUT I HAVEN’T HAD ANY PROBLEMS TEACHING MY CHILDREN VALUES, MANNERS, ETC. I NEVER STOPPED BEING A CHEER MOM, FOOTBALL MOM, PTA MEMBER, SHUTTLE, ALTHO I DID SLOW UP IN THE KITCHEN. MY FAMILY CAN’T WAIT FOR “COOK DAY” I DO IT UP ONCE A WEEK & REALLY IT’S BECOME MORE APPRECIATED. AND MY ONCE PERFECT BODY DOESNT HIT THE GYM ON A DAILY BASIS ANYMORE – IT HITS THE COUCH MORE FREQUENTLY!

    I REMARRIED AN OLD BOYFRIEND FROM MY 20’S(HA!) IT REALLY DOES HAPPEN & HE’S A “STAY @HOME DAD” NOW. I BLESSED ENOUGH TO MAKE 6 FIGURES ANNUALLY & HE HELPS WITH WHAT I CAN NO LONGER DO FULL TIME.
    HE IS NOW THE PTA MEMBER, ROOM DAD & IT’S FUN TO SEE THE OTHER MOM’S MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF A HANDSOME MAN WHO HAS TAKEN ON THIS ROLE. BELIEVE ME- HE IS CONFIDENT IN HIMSELF & HIS MASCULINITY HASN’T SUFFERED ONE BIT.

    GOD HAS TRULY BLESSED ME! I’VE LIVED THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS & ENJOYED BOTH TO THE FULLEST. IT’S WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT.

    SO TO “FULLTIMEMOM” : I CAN SAY STAY @ HOME MOMS ARE NOT ANY MORE SPECIAL THAN WORKING MOMS – I’VE BEEN BOTH. AND I’M STILL ONE HECK OF A MOM. MY KIDS VALUES ARE JUST FINE & THEY ARE IN THE HONOR SOCIETY, SPORTS & VERY WELL ROUNDED. THEY ALSO TALK BACK OCCAISIONALLY, ROLL THEIR EYEBALLS & SNEAK THE PHONE AT NIGHT. (JUST LIKE I DID WHEN I WAS A KID) WHETHER WOMEN WORK OR NOT DOESNT MEAN OUR KIDS WILL BE FLAWLESS EITHER WAY.. WE ALL STAND THE RISK OF THEM GETTING IN 2 DRUGS, ALCOHOL, TEEN PREGNANCY, ATTITUDES, ETC. SO GET OVER YOURSELF – I HAD TO!!!! I MEAN DO YOU REALY THINK YOURE THE ONLY ONE THAT IS THE “ROCK & FOUNDATION” OF THE FAMILY? OR THAT MUDPIES & FUN IS EXCLUSIVE TO YOUR HOUSEHOLD? I KNOW PLENTY OF MOTHERS WHO WORK OR DON’T WORK OUTSIDE THE HOME WHO ARE LAZY & ON THE FLIP THOSE THAT AREN’T. TO EACH HIS OWN.

    TO: KIRSTING G: GO GIRL
    TO: ELISABETH WILKINS: I AGREE AND UNDERSTAND
    TO: BECKY CANARD: A BIG HELL YEAH!!!

    Reply
  11. Teresa (Edit) Report

    Just to clarify, the government handouts I was referring to in my previous post were about the person on welfare who is perfectly capable of working, but more interested in having more babies and doing drugs and being a burden on society than in getting a job and supporting the family they have.

    I speak from experience with that particular kind of person. My husband and I were foster parents to 3 of 8 total kids for a while. Both biological parents were home, neither one worked, neither one was willing to work, and both were drug and alcohol addicts who on top of having baby after baby, abused and neglected all of their kids to the point where they eventually lost the kids permanently.

    Like I said — a good parent does what they have to do to take care of their family. If you have the luxury to be able to choose to stay home, great. If you don’t choose to or can’t because it’s not a choice you can make, don’t apologize. You do what you have to do to take care of your family.

    As for those who assume the stay at home parent is uneducated — I am a dentist, and my husband has a PhD in Biochemistry/Genetics/Molecular Biology. Our decision for him to stay at home obviously wasn’t about his educational level.

    Reply
  12. Tracey Wisor (Edit) Report

    Hi
    I’ve been on both sides of this most spirited debate. I was lucky enough to be able to bring my child to work when I worked. I became ill and now I am a stay at home mom after some recovery. I would not be able to afford to stay at home if I didn’t recieve disability. To give back I now help other moms in the neighborhood who work on days when the kids have off from school. Can this be a nice example for other moms? Let’s try to help each other. I did not recieve pay for my help but I know if I ever needed help I know I have folks I can count on! A wonderful example for my son…

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  13. Kristin G (Edit) Report

    Wow, finally someone reached into my head and put into words that which I am trying to explain. I am a career person (not bragging – I have a bachelor’s, master’s and I recently earned a teaching certification – to find a more kid friendly line of work). I worked hard to achieve my education and put it to use making great money because I was taught as a young person I could do and have it all if I work hard and apply myself. I had a wonderful childhood, I have a great relationship with my parents. With that said, I found out after 6 grueling years of infertility, I could not have children, we adopted – twice. I have two wonderful sons, 6 yrs and 3 yrs, and we adore them. Enter the guilt trip – (“I can’t believe after everything you went through to try and have kids and your going to let someone else raise them?) WHAT? That was so not fair and I heard it quite a few times. It cut so deeply I am now seeking therapy to try and understand this guilt and deal with it. I love being with my kids and I have shared some great experiences but I am suffering internally because I want to have some of ME back. A strong and well adjusted ME makes ME a better MOM! Right?

    I was layed-off due to corporate mergers etc. two months before we received the call for our first son. A gift from God on both accounts. I am a security freak and never would have left even for my my child who took so long to come into our lives. The lay off cut our household income by at least half (I was proud of the salary I earned we got married, bought a house and paid for all that infertility treatment without going into debt, but the adoption took care of sending us there.) Daycare was always an option – I went to daycare and I am a good, upstanding well adjusted person.

    My comment is this I too understand both sides and this is a choice as individual as what color underwear you pick out of the drawer in the morning. Some of us don’t think about the color and some of us do care what color it is. Does that make it wrong? No its our FREE choice. As someone who has experienced both (I worked last year and now I’m home again as chose to be free to enjoy my son’s Kindergarten year) staying home has been the toughest job I have ever done. It starts at 7:00 AM – 6:00 AM if I want to workout and take care of me at all and it ends when my three year old decides he is going to stay in his bed (recently moved to a big boy bed- oh the joy). Some days are great and other days suck! I will take my worst working day no matter how long and stressful and it never has affected me the way a rough day with my children has. Work stays at work (if you CHOOSE to leave it there, your children never CHOOSE to stay in one place they require 24/7 attention, care and most importantly LOVE! I want to go back to work as I feel a part of ME is missing and a well adjusted ME makes ME a better parent.

    Now the problem – our society does not take into account that some of us would like to contribute in the work force but we want to do it part-time. Yes I know I could go wait tables or work at JoAnn’s all great if the pay could help cover the cost of daycare and make it worth the effort. Where is the movement for job sharing and other programs that support the FAMILY EFFORT I thought companies would see the benefit of allowing the full time parent to carry the healthcare (the majority is like this – not every situation I understand) and help the economy too! This disagreement would not exist if we could help the working FAMILIES find a happy medium. Oh people will still have their opinions but you know the saying about opinions.

    Your article does wonders to stop the bickering between at home moms and working moms – but the arguing just leads to bad feelings and we have enough of those in the world already. What we need is a society that believes in FAMILY and if you don’t want to believe in family then you will still have your career etc. and life will go on but if the day comes when you choose to have a FAMILY wouldn’t it be nice to have options so you can take care of that family the way you want too!

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  14. Amy (Edit) Report

    Wow – this one hits home. I have been a working mom since my kids (now 5 and 7) were babies. And, my mother was a working mom…I remember not even knowing that there were moms that stayed home. I like working – my job is part of who I am as a person. As a child I learned that education was important, I studied and worked hard, went to college – so that I could work.

    I have a question for stay at home moms – in particular – moms of girls. Do you push the importance of education on them? If so, for what reasons? I already talk to my 5 year old daughter about how important learning is, and how it will lead to great things. She says she wants to be a doctor (sometimes she wants to be a princess or a cheerleader, then a doctor when she grows up).

    Anyway, I have often wondered what stay at home mom’s take was on the importantance of education…and if daughters ever say – I don’t need to work hard in school – I just want to stay home when I grow up.

    I fear this is coming across in a way I don’t mean for it to be…it’s just something I have wondered.

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  15. Sharon (Edit) Report

    I have been an “at home mom” for 21 years now. I stayed home when it was financially tight and I’ve been home when we prospered.
    I am college degreed; so I have been criticized for “wasting” my education; but I am so very close to my children and involved in ways that would never have been possible had I pursued a different career. Although rewarding, loneliness has been a by-product of being at home in this culture with so many women at work – just not enough hours in the day. Now that the children are in college with one in middle school; midlife has hit and now I might pursue that other career outside the home and children….Let’s face it, if you are in this blog you are amongst those who are humble enough to admit that you do not always have the answers. As Mr.Lehmen has already encouraged us, we are generally “good enough” parents making sacrifices for our families in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.I do know if you seek God for help in prayer He surprises you by placing many helpful people in your path.

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  16. Pam Ryan (Edit) Report

    What do we value most in our lives? We see it everyday in our society, people, things and to what degree? Whether we work or stay home is a choice we make based on many and varied circumstances and the importance we place on them. This perspective has helped guide me in making my decision to stay home or enter the workforce. There is no need to judge others or feel guilty about your decision when your values are based on loving, nurturing and caring for your children, whether you work inside or outside of the home.

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  17. michelle (Edit) Report

    I am a stay at home mom with three boys. I have a lot of friends who do work and their problems are the same situations that I have. It is sad that a woman has to be judged because she is a stay at home mom or a working mom.

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  18. Chris (Edit) Report

    I am a firm believer in a woman doing what she has to do in order to make the house run as smooth as possible. I don’t believe any woman really “wants” to be away from their kids so they can work…..that is quite a contradiction. It should never matter the educational background, we will all answer to the same person in the end, I doubt he will ask if we received our Masters Degree in anything.

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  19. Teresa (Edit) Report

    Wow, what a spirited debate!

    I am actually a working mom. But my husband is a stay at home dad. We both decided before we had our daughter that, if it was financially feasable, we wanted one of us to stay home with our daughter. Please don’t misunderstand — I am not in any way saying that a stay at home parent is superior to a working parent, or vice versa. But at least in our case, we found that our life was a little bit easier in the ways that mattered to US when we chose for one of us to stay at home.

    It is different for every family. Everyone has different priorities, different values and mores, different lifestyles that work for them. In our case, we wanted a certain kind of life style that reflected OUR values, but we also wanted it to make sense for us. When we thought it all out, it made sense for one of us to stay at home.

    We actually calculated our budget, and decided that, for our family, him working would pay for day care, the cleaning service, the lawn care people, and all of the eating out that we would do because we were too tired to cook at the end of a long work day. If he didn’t work, he would have to take care of the cooking, the cleaning, the lawn, and our daughter, as well as all of the other things in life (letting in and supervising repair people, car maintenance, shopping, etc).

    I can support us on just my income, but the luxuries of life are what we chose to give up in order to have at least one of us be able to shuttle her around to lessons, go to school plays, and all of the myriad other things that raising a child entails. We don’t have things like nintendo and we don’t go to the movies or eat out often or do other things that cost a lot of money. Then again, when he worked, we didn’t do a whole lot of that anyway, because we were paying for the other stuff, but also, because we were just plain tired from all of the running around!

    My hat is off to double income families that can pull off both working full time and raising their kids. It is hard work, and it’s EXHAUSTING! And for single parents who don’t have a choice but to work in order to support their families — you do what you have to do to take care of your family. Period. No excuses, no guilt, no problem. Daycare is not a bad thing. It’s like school. The skills learned at daycare are the same skills learned in any school. The thing that you look at is the quality of the daycare you choose, just as you look at the quality of the school you choose for your kids. This should not be a debate on the merits and problems with day care. Those are also the same as with schools nowadays.

    We simply decided that it was better for my husband to stay at home because there was no real benefit to him working full time outside the home — not even a real financial benefit. The bonus is we don’t have to rush around every evening and weekend doing all of the stuff that we couldn’t do because we were both working all day at full time jobs. I work at a paying full time job. I support us financially. And he works at home, supporting us in all the myriad ways that he does. He works just as hard or harder than I do. He just doesn’t get paid for it.

    My parents both worked outside the home. I didn’t feel abandoned or neglected by my parents while I was growing up. I grew up to be a responsible, successful member of the work force. I have a very strong work ethic, thanks to the values my parents taught me. Same thing goes with my husband — and his parents both worked at home (he was raised on a farm). The key in both of our cases was that our parents taught us the value of hard work no matter whether we worked at home or outside of home). It is worse in my mind to be a stay at home single parent who lives on goverment handouts, than to be a hard working single parent who does what you have to do to support your family.

    I just think that we live in an ever crazier world, and if you have the luxury of having a choice, you should choose TIME. The world is moving ever faster, and expanding rapidly in some ways, and shrinking rapidly in others. My husband and I don’t want to look back on our lives at the end of them and regret not spending enough time with our child (or maybe one day, children), because we were so busy trying to keep up with the Jones’. It’s not about the money. It’s about family. And you can never get back TIME.

    We figure that no one ever got to the end of their lives and said “I wish I would have worked harder, or longer hours”. Every time I see people have regrets at the end of their lives, it’s more like “I wish I would have spent more time with my family”. Parents who HAVE to work have good reasons for having to work. Parents who CHOOSE to work, have good reasons for choosing to work. And parents who stay at home have good reasons for staying at home. You do what works for you and your family. And you try to make sure that what you are doing makes sense for you. If you feel like you are going crazy, then reevaluate what is important to you, and make your decisions from there, whatever they may be.

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  20. Diane (Edit) Report

    Really, ladies

    It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it! Some stay-at-home mom’s AND some working moms are just not good parents. Also, each child is an individual, and it doesn’t matter if you are the best mom in the world, you child may become a criminal, drug addict, a dead-beat dad (or mom), have a mental disorder, such as bi-polar, ADD/ADHD, learning challenged etc. I don’t think ANY mother would want any of this to happen or have their children to make wrong choices, but sometimes they do! It doesn’t matter if you stayed at home, or worked full time. There is no sense in a blame game, for goodness sakes! Mothers, Unite!

    Reply
  21. Sam (Edit) Report

    I’m a stay home mom for 9 years, but have been pet sitting or volunteering with various organizations almost the whole time. I have 4 children ranging from 11-4 yrs old and do a little homeschooling too, cause life is all about learning.

    Someone recently said they wouldn’t give me an interview for a part time job because ‘ if the kids get sick we can’t count on you’ and ‘ oh I didn’t realize you actually have an education’. I was so insulted and then went home to cry. Have I become worthless to society after staying home to care for my children?

    I wouldn’t take a job during hours my kids would need me, I’m that dedicated to my kids. Yes, once upon a time I went to college, had a degree, received bonuses at my employments for outstanding work, and left it all when it was financially impossible to work and afford child care. Someone very wise said “You’re a smart, educated woman and can teach your children far more being home with them than working just to pay for day care”.

    So now, when a local mom’s club mother called DYFS to complain my son looked abused I happily said “I’m a stay home mom and he has a number of activities everyday that allow him to play freely, get bumps and bruises outside, and I’ve taught him addition/subtraction” at the young age of 4.

    How dare people assume that becuase my child isn’t in a child care facility I must be strung out abusing him all day long. An aunt said “It can be very frustrating to be around your children, but when they’re gone you’ll miss them”. I totally agree. My children DO go to a summer day camp because it’s free with my husband working their on his vacation (he’s a teacher) and I miss them. But the good news is while they’re gone I create a magical environment for them to return to where we can eat dinner, relax in a spick n span clean home, and enjoy the simple pleasures of being together at home.

    Now I’d like to see some of these fulltime working moms try to do all that on their days off even.

    Reply
  22. Tracie (Edit) Report

    I understand both sides of stay at home mom’s and the working mom and I know both sides cause Ive tried to work some and at this time, its best I wait to go back to work, but one thing that is upsetting is that when Mom’s do want to stay at home, but pressure from their husband’s forces them to go back to work even though they have plenty of money to live off with one income. Its sacrificing in the worst form of selfishness on the husbands part. The Mom truly wants to raise her kids at home but because the Dad is a total tightwad and the money means more to him than what his wife truly wants is just wrong. Now for those Mom’s who want to work, I think that is great and their choice but when that right is taken away by selfish greed from the other spouse it only builds resentment down the line. Some people cant handle staying at home, they like working and that is ok, Id rather them be in daycare than stay at home with a Mom who does not want to be there. Some families have to have two incomes and that is understandable too.
    Ive also have seen parents who dont work and put their child in daycare anyway while they play tennis and have lunch with their friends all day. That I think is truly selfish. Its ok to have lunch w/ your friends and go workout and have breaks from your kids, but to put you child in daycare fulltime while your NOT working is very selfish and you are missing out on so much.

    Reply
  23. Tracey (Edit) Report

    In the scheme of things, does it really matter if you work or not? You love your child whether you work or not, so why does it matter so much? I have respect for both sides. The working parent has less time but not less love for their child and the stay at home parent has less money but not less love for their child. We all win because we all love our children. Here are some things to think about: if your child had a life long illness and you had to work out of love and needs for your child and it kils you, would you? If your husband died leaving you nothing and you had no family around to help and circumstances prevented you from moving near relatives, would you work to support yor children? If you hated to stay home but did it anyways because you needed to, would you? If your staying home meant you barely had food in the house and not enough gas to go anywhere and were practically at the poverty level and you were happy with that, would you? My point is, I could care less who works or who doesn’t and why or why not. To me, it’s just another fact about someone (i.e.do you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream, hair color, school you go to etc.) I have friends and neighbors who make all kinds of decisions that are right for their family and guess what? Not one of us puts the other down. We could care less. We find out what one does or does not do, and that’s it, we’re all friends. If you stay home or if you work, that does not define you. What’s in your heart is what defines you. Don’t feel like you have to defend any decision you make. Raise your children however you have to and be thankful that you are doing that with love. I think we should be thankful and supportive and before you judge another person, realize that you may not know what the other person is going through. I tend to be friends with women that do not put other women down and I have friends that do not have careers outside of the home, and friends that do. I have a hard time understanding why it really matters.

    Reply
  24. nancy (Edit) Report

    If mothers choose to have children, they should put their kids first and stay home and be a loving, caring mom. Day cares are a business. They are not there because they love your child, they are there for the money. If women choose to work, they should not have children and have stragers rasie them.

    Reply
  25. janet (Edit) Report

    I’m not going to tell you whether I am a “income producing” or “non-income producing” mom – suffice it to say that I am committed to parenting and love my son with every ounce of my being. But WOW – I just read each comment very slowly & here’s what I heard – the working moms tried to explain how work and committment to children are not mutually exclusive and then asked people to “stop judging” (they did not put down the moms not earning outside income while parenting). The non-working moms seemed more defensive about the “superiority” of their choice and critical of those who earned money while being a parent. Please, go back and read all the comments. If I’m crazy I apologize.

    Parenting requires maturity, creativity, dedication, and, at times, the ability to put the needs of others before self. It also requires self-disciple, clear rational thinking, consistency, and knowing oneself very well. As my mother used to say, it is not for the faint of heart. If, when you re-read the comments you find “your” side of the street critical, judgemental, and superior maybe you’ve got some work to do (or maybe just make some friends on the other side of the street to balance yourself out). Here’s why I think this is so important:

    Our children learn from us – I would like to see my son grow up celebrating diversity and enjoying all people; able to appreciate their strengths even if they don’t match his. I want him to engage in sportsmanlike conduct and be a great team player. In my experience this doesn’t occur where there is a sense of superiority and criticalness/resentment towards others.

    We owe it to our children to not compare working vs non-income earning moms. All parents (yep, dads too) need support and encouragement to succeed in the hardest job on the face of the planet. Mom’s you are awesome (and if you aren’t go get someone to give you a hand or some instruction – you too can be awesome).

    Reply
  26. Teresa (Edit) Report

    I was raised by a working mom when this was simply not done. She did find good care and I never felt abandoned or alone. I loved it! And my mom and I enjoyed and extremely close bond-only broken by her death.

    My kids were in daycare until one was 4 and the other one 3. It was a fabulous experience for all of us. Then my company closed its doors and we moved. Unable to find a job that worked for me as a mom, we were fortunate enough that I could stay at home. I enrolled the kids in preschool, had another baby, and worked my tail off every single day to raise my girls (the little one is 4 and still at home.

    Our experience with daycare was top notch and my older girls thrived.

    let’s face it-working or stay at home doesn’t matter as much as what you do when you are with your kids. I have seen stay at home moms barely spend 10 minutes one-on-one with their kids and I have seen working moms be incredibly devoted and involved in their child’s life. Every situation and famly is different.

    Reply
  27. Brooke (Edit) Report

    Apparently, our dear editor has struck a nerve. This is obviously a subject we all should be talking about more, so we can figure out why mothers get so defensive about this issue.

    I just wish everyone would really try to listen to what people are saying, instead of just suiting up and taking swings at the mere mention of the debate.

    Reply
  28. Lisa (Edit) Report

    I have been a stay-at-home mom for 8+ years. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that they regret spending too MUCH time with their kids. They’re only young once and then they’re on their own.

    Reply
  29. joan (Edit) Report

    I think when we are judging, we aren’t being insightful. By this I mean we’re lacking the ability to see why we are choosing to judge other people’s choices. When I get judgmental, I try to stop and focus on what it is in my life that I feel insecure about that makes me be so mean and disparaging towards the person I am judging. When we judge mother’s for not doing what WE want them to do it is simply because we want to make ourselves feel superior, as a mother, as a wife, as a human being. I have a Ph.D. and have decided to stay at home to raise my 3 kids. How on earth can I know what goes through the mind of another woman when she decides how to raise her children? There is simply no possible way for me to ever know why a person wants to stay home or work and, quite frankly, it’s none of my business. We are ALL mothers and with that title comes an enormous privilege that men will never have–to birth and give mother’s care to the most important beings that will ever walk the earth. Let’s stop this stereotypical cattiness that women are all supposed to possess and acknowledge that all of us have the capacity to do great things in our role as mom.

    Reply
  30. dina burnett (Edit) Report

    i meant to say in my previous post that i have no child support, but need to pay all my own bills. thus, working is necessary. my ex does his fair share parenting, but i miss my kids by not being their daily caregiver. still, i feel very much an involved parent. dina.

    Reply
  31. dian burnett (Edit) Report

    people have given me a hard time because i chose to share custody with my ex and his wife. my son has very severe adhd, and the total transformation has helped greatly. i work in a group home with emotionally disturbed kids, and have my kids 3 to 4 nights per week, but see them almost every day by driving them to school, and with extra time in the schedule. i chose to finish my bachelors and am slowly working on a masters in special ed. i thought i was better for them to be with their dad than a babysitter when i was in school. i have child support due to this, but it’s a better way to be single parent IF its doable. i miss them so much when they are not with me, contributing to guilt, but know i made the right decison. those who know what i did, except for close friends, think it makes me a not so great mom. my son has requited much work, though, and this gives me energy to really devote to his parenting per the total trnasformation and his treatment. i had to live in a way that i had no example for.

    Reply
  32. mother of four also says (Edit) Report

    I am also a mother of four who works. I say that my children are just as balanaced as anyone. I still cook and clean and do homework, and give them love and work. They seem to be doing very well and have many friends and are very functionable in society. Anyway, who are you or anyone else to judge. Are you God? Only God can judge. If we just took time to think outside the box and stop judging other people by our own values, and walk in someone elses shoes for a while, and have a little more compassion for one another, we might just learn something about the world. And, that is just because something works for you, it does not work for everyone else the same. Open your mind, take some time to smell the roses and RELAX! Be supportive not unsupportive and throw your judmental stuff out the window! Because it only takes one negative person’s views to infect everyone else, and Lord knows this world does not need any more of that. We should be helping one another not hurting one another. Oh and by the way my friend is a stay at home mom, and her son just got arrested for drug possession, so to say that a stay at home mom has more balanced kids is not the truth. ANYONE can have balanced kids, as long as you give them love and attention and find a good childcare provider who’s values match yours. So stop judging and start supporting each other.

    Reply
  33. Mother of 4 (Edit) Report

    As a stay at home mother I am in agreement with Fulltimemom. I have a college degree and worked in computer networking before having kids. I see a difference in children who are latch key kids. My kids need me emotionally and spiritually. I am so grateful for everyday I have with my boys. It is hard to stay at home but worth it in the long run. We are giving back to society balenced grounded children.

    Reply
  34. Carla Morgan (Edit) Report

    Hello,

    I can understand your concern. However, have ever tried having someone assist you or helping with your child. Like a mommy helper or Au Pair in the comfort of your own home? Even if you worked or stayed at home it does not matter. Your child could still have a that interaction with other children. Now with an Au Pair if you want to stay at home you can run errands and have time to yourself with someone their to interact with your children and do some light household duties and prepare meals for the children. What I really think is great is that your child will grow learning 2 languages too. No matter it is a hard decision but, no matter what you are the MOM.

    Reply
  35. suzanne (Edit) Report

    It’s seems to me that most of the time the choice isn’t made simply choosing it, it generaly is choosen for us, or most of us anyway.
    So, why all the hub bub. bub
    stay home or work.
    Girls rule, right.. all girls

    Reply
  36. Ardella Eagle (Edit) Report

    I think the best support for either parent is the patented eye roll, a pat on the shoulder and say, “Hang in there, honey. They’ll turn 18 one day!”

    Parenting is a full time position, whether or not you are gainfully employed. Let’s all remember that. I have been financially blessed with the ability to stay with my children through their younger years, but I have the greatest respect for those who put in a morning to get the kid(s) out the door, then get themselves to their own workplace, put in a full day, then go home to the parenting job.

    So, kudos to all of us parents that are doing our best and are raising our children to be functional adults!

    Reply
  37. brand z (Edit) Report

    I am an At Home mother. Now that is, before I was a day care provider for 10 years. I have 3 children and the two oldest went to day care with me. Yes, I know that most parents do not have this advantage but there is a few things that must be considered. 1) I am not a college graduate and 2) It worked for our family schedule 3) convenience 4) money . The main point that I;m trying to make is that no matter whether or not you work and you have children you have to provide for; not only monetarily but emotionally and spiritually also. As a working mom to fulfill all of this and be happy about it was one of the hardest jobs I have ever worked in my life. Now I don’t work and it’s still hard. I don’t get a vacation because I have 3 people who depend on me and that’s just the way it is. A day care employee has 20 or so lives that she has to be involved in and most of that time it’s not just being a body in the room with them. You are their mother, teacher, their friend, their nurse. SO morking mothers should not be looked at as just dropping their kids off for someone to babysit because day care employees are more than babysitters. Most mothers that I know get heart broken to know that someone else is raising their children but think about it… Who is going to work to feed them, house them, clothe them? In my opinion there is no winner except the children because they have more people to love them.

    Reply
  38. Becky J. (Edit) Report

    Well, maybe “war” is too strong of a word, but I do know that there is a lot of judgment going on out there. I’m a divorced mom with two kids, and I work. Most of the moms in my neighborhood stay home with their kids, and I too have gotten comments like, “I could never do that to my kids.” Or the best one “Why did you even have kids if you wanted to work?” Part of it is that I think people just don’t get it, but it still hurts. Anyway, my policy is that if you haven’t walked in someone’s shoes, you don’t know what they’re dealing with, so I try very hard not to judge what parents do in terms of working or staying home.

    Reply
  39. Becky Canard (Edit) Report

    I believe I’m not going to make any friends here… but, here’s my $.02. And for the record, I was an “at-home” mom (or whatever you find least offensive) for 10 years and I’ve been back in the work-force full-time for 4 years now. My kids are ages 9-13.

    I think this is a bunch of self-inflicted nonsense perpetuated by women who have yet to go beyond a high school mentality. Women are typically SO catty and judgmental, finding fault with any other women for any reason.

    The working moms say whatever they have to say about the non-career women to make themselves feel better about whatever they’re dealing with. The at-home moms do it back by placing themselves on a pedestal and justifying their decision.

    It’s all such a waste of everybody’s time. Make your choice. Live with your choice. Make no excuses for your choice. Personally, if my friend made a negative or hurtful comment about my family’s lifestyle, that’s all it would be a comment. There would be none of this nonsense if we didn’t fan the flame. In the end… who really cares? Are these people raising your kids, paying your bills or approving of your decisions? Do we even need this?

    Live and let live already. There is no war.

    Reply
  40. Francine (Edit) Report

    Dear FulltimeMom,

    It’s not about ferociously defending our choices or situations, it’s about mutual support. Neither full-time parenting nor full-time working is easy. Nobody is debating that. What is on the table here is a peace treaty.

    Your comments about “financial excuses” and children being another possession for working parents are inflammatory and presumptuous. Does your husband view your children as “just one more possession” because he works? I have a friend who is a widow and has no choice but to work and raise her children. Is that a “financial excuse,” too?

    Please help end the Mommy Wars by laying down your sword!

    Reply
  41. Donnamarie (Edit) Report

    It is time to end this battle. Each family must make this decision based on what works for them. Some of us have choices, and some of us do not, but even if you have the choice to stay at home it may not be the right fit for you. No matter how you slice it,in the end we all love our children. I have also been on both sides and I can tell you that neither is easy. I worked full time when my son was born up until he was three, and felt guilty every day because of it. I fantasized about mommy and me activities from crafts to long walks in the park meeting other moms and kids. I frantically found a way to stay home (even though we really could not afford for me to do so) because I felt I was not going to be a “good mom” unless I was home. I stayed home for five years, added another child, and it was mentally and physically exhausting. Although I enjoyed some aspects of staying home, at times I felt that I was losing touch with the world and secretly desired to go back to work. I went back to work full time for a few years, and although I loved working, the demands of my profession (branch manager) were just not conducive to the kind of life I wanted to create for my family. I found it is very difficult to do one OR the other, and thought there has to be a happy medium. I recognized that I needed balance, and that balance will be different for each individual. Now, I work from home as a virtual assistant and love my work and the flexibility it allows. My kids are older and I am fortunate to be able to be involved in all their activities, and be there for them after school. Fortunately, I have been in a position to have experienced both “sides” and I can tell you that one should not be pitted against the other. I am all for “remember, we’re all in this together.” Stop judging and start celebrating ALL moms EVERYWHERE! : )

    Reply
  42. Elisabeth Wilkins Report

    Dear Fulltimemom: Wow, I think you really misread what I was trying to say here. Actually, I have nothing but the utmost respect for stay-at-home, or full time moms. Since having my son, I have both worked and stayed home. Initially, I worked full time when my son was born because my family did not have a choice financially in that matter. Later, I was a stay at home/full time mom in his toddler years, and now I have a more flexible schedule that allows me to be home with my son more and also work. This is what works for my family, and my point is, we need to stop judging each other on these choices we make. It bothers me when working moms criticize full time moms, just as much as it bothers me to have the opposite occur. (Probably because I relate to both groups and know how hard it is to do either.) What I’ve discovered through all of this is that while parenting is wonderful, it’s also difficult no matter how you slice it. The question I have to ask is, how does it help any of us to tear each other down? I’d love to see more respect and less judgment in general from both sides–those who stay home and those who work–because I believe that in the end, we’re all simply parents trying our best to raise our kids.

    Reply
  43. Fulltimemom (Edit) Report

    Kindly refrain from labeling me a “stay-at-home” because that is not what I do. I am constantly on the go – volunteering at my kids’ schools when others can’t because of work, shuttling my kids to many and varied activities such as symphony, music lessons, red cross, gymnastics, softball, swim team and more to expand their horizons and enrich their lives. I am my children’s rock and foundation – they know I am always there for them and that they can count on me in a solid unscheduled way. They take pride in my strength and ingenuity and ability to fix anything. I make home-cooked meals every night, repair the plumbing, mow the yard with a tractor, wield a chain saw, assist with their homework and projects, listen to them practice their instruments everyday and more. Raising children can be messy and chaotic. I have become supremely patient and tolerant thanks to this experience. My home is always open to my children’s friends. Many have said I am more “fun” and “relaxed” than their moms and that they get to do more fun things at my house because I allow them to cook, paint, play in the mud – things that require clean-up help. I very much respect our moms in the workforce, our society would be very different without them. I feel privledged to be a full-time mom for my children. My husband travels extensively for work and we have no relatives available for assistance with the children. We decided that when we had children we would be the ones to raise them, not a daycare center, so that they would receive our values and morals, our attention and love. In my opinion, it is unquestionably easier in a host of ways to go a workplace and receive compensation and “value” while others raise your children in a society that values money and sexuality over motherhood. In your writing I detected criticism and prejudice for moms such as myself. In the many articles I have seen it is consistently the workforce moms who smugly criticize the full-time moms not the other way around. Children need us and our time, not just more and more possessions or “things”. Financial excuses aside, why have children at all if they are to be just one more posession?

    Reply
  44. Dawn Budner (Edit) Report

    What a great concept! Empowering Mommies instead of tearing each other down with judgment. They say “it takes a village” — how wonderful it would be if Mommies everywhere could provide that kind of support to one another. You go Elisabeth!!!

    From a former full-time working (as in trial lawyer/partner in big firm) Mommy of one to part-time working (at law firm) Mommy of two to finally, after 12 years, stay-at-home Mommy of three — been there, done the guilt thing and the spread-too-thin thing and now the wondering about my IQ thing. IT’S ALL GOOD IF IT’S LOVE. ( :

    Reply
  45. Annita (Edit) Report

    The truth is, staying at home or going to work are two different things that aren’t really comparable. The difficulties and rewards of each are different, but both valuable. A new friend helped me find an answer for situations like this…thanks to him we just say…”it seems to work for us”. Trust your heart and your gut to guide your choices. Some moms are better parents for having made the choices they have made. Good luck to us all! And to our children!

    Reply
  46. Alice Gess (Edit) Report

    Hi, I am a Child Care Provider of 25 years & I agree that some “moms” should stay home with their children. I just happen to stay with the children that have moms & dads that work. I also teach the chldren how to read, do math, learn about the world & be very social. I also take them to Dance & Gymnastics & Music classes each week. Local parks & zoos & big field trips on week-ends. We learn how to swim in the summer. From my “Graduates” I have been honored to be a God-Mother to 3 of my kids. I also had a family of 4 come to me. I have been to 7 weddings and they are all still married. They still come back to visit me. I go to almost all of the High School Graduations and all Birthday parties. All of those parents thought I was capable to caring & teaching their chldren. I never took the place of the parent. Children know who their mom & dad are. I love my job. I get to play everyday & teach children values & how to be happpy. I also have the best children in the world.

    Reply
  47. Sal Cavallo (Edit) Report

    As a single parent, I had my kids in daycare while I went to school and then got a job. I’m proud of what I accomplished, and now my kids (they’re in their twenties now) say they’re proud of me too. I always tell parents that the most important thing is to love their kids and spend as much time wiht them as they can–they grow up fast!

    Reply
  48. Stayingathome (Edit) Report

    Here, here. I’m so sick of people treating me like I’m dumb because I quit my job to raise my kids. For me, this has been a lot tougher than working for a company. I love my kids, but being a parent is hard work.

    Reply

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