The Real Mommy War Is Against the State

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By Caitlyn Collins / Dr. Collins is the author of “Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving.” / Feb. 9, 2019 / NYTimes

(RP: When we talk about work/life balance, we often assume it is a choice. Not! When we talk about how we do things, we often are not interested in how other people do the thing. Not smart.)

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Stop blaming yourselves. Blame the total lack of social supports.

Since 2011, I’ve interviewed 135 middle-class employed mothers in Sweden, Germany, Italy and the United States to understand their work-family conflict.

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In the United States, almost every woman I interviewed had reached the same conclusion: It was her — or her and her partner’s — responsibility to figure out child care, etc.

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...I discovered that American working mothers generally blame themselves for how hard their lives are. They take personal responsibility for problems that European mothers recognize as having external causes.

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“Balance” is a term that came up relentlessly in my conversations with women in the United States. But framing work-family conflict as a problem of imbalance is merely an individualized way to justify a nation of mothers engulfed in stress. It fails to recognize how institutions contribute to this anxiety.

The stress that American parents feel is an urgent political issue, so the solution must be political as well. We have a social responsibility to solve work-family conflict.

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