Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Clash of the Mothers

I don’t have a solution to this problem. I do not even have a useful insight. You will quickly see why. A woman wrote to Carolyn Hax to ask her advice on a strange problem. You see, she lives in a community that has a lot of children. Some mothers stay at home. Others work outside the home.

This, in itself, does not seem to be especially bizarre. Free to choose and all that. What strikes me about this community-- we do not know where it is-- is that the two groups of mothers are in constant conflict. They seem to despise each other. Hax suggests that they are like urban gangs, like the Crips and the Bloods.

Now, one woman who had stayed at home has taken some part time work. This means that she no longer belongs to either clique. She has become the town pariah, shunned by both cliques. What should she do?

Anyway, here’s the letter:

We live in a community that is FULL of young families. There is a strong clash between working moms and stay-at-home moms, with groups that socialize together on each side but a lot of disdain and defensiveness between the two. I stayed at home with my son for the first three years of his life, and then a few months ago I returned to working part-time; I'm in an office three days a week.

My social life has changed radically, with the moms in both groups wanting nothing to do with me. I have no interest in judging anyone else's choices or holding mine out as superior — I just want to be able to hang out with the moms and kids I like without feeling that I am distrusted by both the working and the at-home moms. How do I get there? Do I need to wear a banner proclaiming that I respect all lifestyles?

As a sociological phenomenon, this is surely intriguing. One trusts that this social organization has not been imposed by the patriarchy. But, it suggests that women who choose one way to bring up their children are not at all tolerant of those who choose the other way.

It’s a sociological symptom, one that I had not heard of before. I had heard of stay-at-home fathers being shunned by stay-at-home mothers in the playground, but this one is new for me. I am wondering how pervasive it is. Anyway, so much for sisterhood.


Sam L. said...

Women are/can be clicquish, and some extremely so.

whitney said...

So presumably for the last 3 years she's been part of the stay-at-home mom clique and now she's being shunned by them. But if they were vicious towards the working moms within their group and she was in that group it stands to reason she was also vicious. I think the first step is to acknowledge your own wrongs

Dan Patterson said...

Women hate each other.

Linda Fox said...

It's not about hate. It's about women's need to force conformity to group standards on the entire group.

That's not always a bad thing - having a common culture, with strongly defined group norms, is, in fact, how we preserve and transmit our culture to the next generation, and keep it strong within our community.

Why should they include her? She is neither dedicated to her career over family, nor available for group interactions and support, as she was formerly. She represents a threat to BOTH groups.