This week the media presented mothers with two starkly different options for conversations about the state of motherhood in the 21st century. On the one hand, Dr. Phil rehashed a show he did five years ago, dividing his audience into employed mothers on one side and mothers who aren’t employed on the other, baited them into doing some mommy wars mudslinging based on outdated stereotypes, and then played the calm father figure who patronizingly admonishes them not to insult each other.
On the other hand we have the release of The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything, put out by Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. An in depth (454 page) report that takes “a hard look at how women’s changing roles are also affecting our major societal institutions: our government, businesses, religious and faith institutions, educational system, the media, and even men and marriage. And we examine how all these parts of the culture have responded to one of the greatest social transformations of our time. We look at where we are and where we should go from here.” The report they hope will “spur a national conversation about what women’s emerging economic power means for our way of life.”
Sorry, Phil, I’ll take Maria’s conversation any day.
I want Maria’s conversation because this is also the conversation I hoped to contribute to by writing my new book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be: Remodeling Motherhood to Get the Lives We Want Today. A real conversation, mothers with other mothers, mothers and fathers at their kitchen table and families and society about the changes we need to make to match how much we’ve changed over the years. Maria’s report reminds us, as my book does, that it is long past time to shed not only the old beliefs about mothers, fathers, marriage, money and work, but the also the old workplace practices, old public policies, old cultural expectations that keep both mothers and fathers boxed in to a lives that are completely out of sync with the way most mothers and fathers today want to live and need to live in order for their families to thrive. We need to remodel the whole house.
In my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, I suggest that by taking simple actions we can remodel our own thinking and lives along with the world around us. So here are a few we can take for starters.
- Email Dr Phil, tweet @drphil and everyone else, or post to Dr Phil’s Facebook page and yours: No more mommy wars Dr. Phil, we’re too busy remodeling motherhood!
- Email Maria and A Woman’s Nation, tweet @MariaShriver and @WomansNation, go to their Facebook page, and ask them to tell Dr Phil, No more mommy wars Dr. Phil, we’re too busy remodeling motherhood! We dare you to talk bout Maria’s report instead.
- Read my book, This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, read Maria’s report (or at least the Executive Summary) come back here and have the conversation we need, a conversation that can help us and bring us together rather than divide us.