Lessons From the New Feminism: The Weekly Mentor


By Oliver DeMille

Mommy warsOnce again in 2013 we have a new focus in feminism.

Years ago, feminism stood for the rights of women, and later an emphasis on women being treated the same as men.

Then came the time when feminism was all about career options for women, and finally in the 1990s and 2000s the focus was on how women can “have it all,” meaning fulfillment from both career and family.[i]

A big shift occurred in 2009-2011, when a host of articles showed that there are now more women than men in college, that women did much better than men financially in the Great Recession from 2008 to 2010, and that if current trends hold, the economic future for women in the United States is much more promising than for men.[ii]

For a time, authors suggested that maybe the feminist fight was over because women have won.[iii]

Now, for some reason, in the second decade of the twenty-first century the whole thing has taken a strange turn.

The Mommy Wars

The media refers to it simply as “The Mommy Wars,” and in recent months it has reached high pitch.

There are two sides to the Mommy Wars, as outlined in a recent article in More magazine.[iv]

On one side are stay-at-home moms who are upset that they are “looked down on” by mothers who work, and on the other side are women who work and feel “judged” and “misunderstood” by the stay-at-homers.

The sad thing is that this new brand of women’s debate has turned mean.

The two sides have a lot of angry things to say about each other—things far beyond the question of whether to stay home with the kids or find daycare and go to work.

For example, they routinely criticize the kind of food the other type typically serves their families, what makes a good marriage, or the way the other side interacts with schools and makes educational choices.[v]

Another thing fueling the debate is that when men are surveyed on the Mommy Wars, they overwhelmingly side with the stay-at-home moms.[vi]

Needless to say, many working moms are neither surprised nor amused.

Follow the Money

Another emotionally-charged point is that a lot more stay-at-home moms describe themselves as “very financially secure,” while many who work say that it is a financial necessity.[vii]

Perhaps the most interesting thing in this debate is that it is generating more emotion, anger and involvement than the old-style feminist debate about male versus female roles.

Men are apparently off the hook in the new culture wars.[viii]

But what does this have to do with The Weekly Mentor?

Well, whichever side you tend to support in this stay-at-home versus go-to-work debate (and even if you don’t take a side at all), there is one part of this that is really striking.

The Casualties

In the center of the debate stand our kids.

This is a big deal.

And the debate boils down to this: If you want your kids to end up in therapy, or just struggle through life, here is the formula:

  1. Plan out every detail of their lives, especially their education
  2. Push, push, and push them to excel in everything
  3. Use their achievements to impress people so you’ll look like a great parent

These things may seem ridiculous, but they have become the norm for far too many parents—dads as well as moms.

Many of today’s parents too often acts as if they think they can control their kids’ lives and that this will guarantee that their kids grow into happy adults, and that this will also make the parents themselves more happy![ix]

As Jeff Blume put it, “We’re confusing our own needs with our kids’ needs and calling it good parenting.”[x]

Too many parents think if their kids excel, people will think they’re good parents, and so they set out to make sure they excel.

They worry about what the neighbors or extended family will think of their kids’ learning, so they are tempted to drive them to the wrong kind of education.

And many from both groups of parents—the stay-at-homers and the go-to-workers—are making this same mistake.

The thing is, there’s a real solution for all this. It’s called Leadership Education (TJEd).

Or, if you don’t like labels, call it great education that truly inspires.

The keys to this kind of learning and parenting are simple.

They boil down to:

  • Apply the 7 Keys![xi] Set an example of getting a great education. Read the classics and great books yourself. Don’t live through your kids and try to impress people by your kids’ achievements. Whatever education you have now, get a better one! Read more! Read the greatest books!
  • Apply the 4 Phases of Learning![xii] Toddlers learn differently than teens. And pre-teens learn differently from both. Find out how your children learn best in each of the four phases, and help them get the right education for their current phase.
  • Inspire![xiii] Learn how to be a truly inspiring parent, and help everyone who teaches, coaches and leads your kids learn how to be a more inspiring mentor and leader. Inspiration is essential to great learning, and great learning is the solution to all mediocre education. But great learning comes when the student wants to get a great education, begs for it. And there is a way to ensure that each student is deeply inspired! Again, see the 7 Keys.[xiv]


We don’t need to get caught up in a debate about whether mothers who work or stay home are better.

Seriously, what a waste of time. Who are we, or you, to say what everyone else should do?

Whoever you are, there will very likely be times in your life when the right thing will be to stay home and others when your best choice is to work.

Likewise, it is probably right for one of your friends to work and one of your friends to stay home. So can we just dump this dumb argument?

Our kids deserve a truly great education. Are they getting it?

Can you set a better example? Can you apply the 7 Keys better?

We know we can, and that’s what the real focus should be.

Now that’s something worth fighting for.


[i] See Geraldine Sealy, “Supermom Smackdown,” Marie Claire, March 2012, p. 191.

[ii] See, for example: Kate Bolick, “What, Me Marry?: All the Single Ladies,” The Atlantic, November 2011, pp. 116-136; Nanette Varian, Childless by Choice, More, October 2010, pp. 106-114; Belinda Luscombe, “Week-On, Week-Off Parenting,” Time, October 18, 2010, pp. 67-68; Lea Goldman, “The New American Couple,” Marie Claire, April 2011, pp. 139-140; Sandra Tsing Loh, “Our Houses, Our Selves,” The Atlantic, July/August 2010, pp. 112-126; Don Peck, “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America,” The Atlantic, March 2010, pp. 42-56; Jen Miller, “Daddy Fever,” Marie Claire, April 2011, pp. 109-110.

[iii] See, for example: Jennifer Braunschweiger, “Attack of the Woman-Dominated Workplace,” More, September 2010, pp. 139-145, 186-189; Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men,” The Atlantic, July/August 2010, pp. 56-72.

[iv] “Why the Mommy Wars Rage On,” More, April 2013, pp. 107-113.

[v] See, for example, Sandra Tsing Loh, “My Chinese American Problem—and Ours,” The Atlantic, April 2011, pp. 83-103.

[vi] Ibid., p. 113.

[vii] Ibid., p. 111.

[viii] “Are Girlfriends the New Husbands?Marie Claire, January 2013, pp. 68-71.

[ix] See Lori Gottlieb, “How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,” The Atlantic, July/August 2011, pp. 64-78.

[x] Ibid., p.70.

[xi] See Oliver DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education.

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] Ibid.

[xiv] Ibid.


For more ideas on building an personal library of classics, and on how to engage your family in reading and discussion great works, download our Family Reading e-book.

Image Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

He is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.


  1. Ammon Nelson April 11, 2013 at 6:30 am - Reply

    Excellent article. Let’s leave it up to each individual to decide how they want to apply principles in their lives.

    There are true principles about the role of the wife and mother, and the role of the husband and father, but it is not up to me to tell anyone else how to apply those principles. It looks to me like the debate about stay at home and working moms is more about passing judgment on those who apply principles differently than we do than it is about what makes the best mother for our own kids.

  2. Kimberly April 11, 2013 at 9:29 am - Reply

    Excellent article. I believe it is more mean because females tend to fight emotionally rather than physically. Emotional scars take far longer to heal if they heal at all. Women know this and tend to go for the “jugular” of emotional destruction. I also think that women, while having made strides in the male dominate world, still feel inferior. As your article points out they use their kids to remedy their own insecurities. This is truly tragic. I love TJeD and even though I don’t have it down perfectly, if there is such a thing, my husband and I feel we are moving in the right direction. Thank you

  3. Mary Ann Johnson April 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    Loved this – Many of today’s parents too often acts as if they think they can control their kids’ lives and that this will guarantee that their kids grow into happy adults, and that this will also make the parents themselves more happy!

    All my kids are in their 30’s and 40’s now and frankly I earned that you can’t control them. That is why so many parents are shocked when their kids step up and say, “I don’t have too”. It is far wiser to teach children to govern themselves. The right kind of education can help with that as well as the right example.

    As for the Mommy Wars – being a mom is tough on both sides of that aisle. We ought to just help each other along so we can all end up with well adjusted and happy adults!

  4. Erin April 13, 2013 at 11:47 am - Reply

    Good article, but I was very disappointed to see no mention of men or society in the “casualties” section! I am not completely opposed to women working, and I appreciate the many contributions women have made. However, the excess to which women have gone has caused men to lose their proper place in our families and society, their compass, their sense of purpose. It is women’s sins of selfishness, pride, envy, and vanity and a lack of understanding and acceptance of God’s role for them (and their God-given dignity within that role) which has led to this sad state of affairs in which everyone loses: women, men, children, families, and society at large. I am not excusing any abuse which women may have suffered at the hands of men; but returning the abuse or abandoning one’s proper role by attempting to usurp men’s God-given roles is not the answer. The “women’s lib” movement has pitted women against men and women against women, left men and children floundering, and contributed to the loss of morality and stability in our society.

  5. Lisa April 14, 2013 at 5:52 am - Reply

    When we polarize issues into this or that, it makes it difficult to see the complexities of the issue. This example here is “working mommy? vs “stay -at- home- mommy.”

    The Mom issue is far more complex than either stay home or go to work. Many moms stay home and work from home. Some Moms work part time and take care of the stay at home mom duties. Most working moms are still playing the role of stay at home mom. Some moms love their work and don’t want to be stay-at-home-moms. Some working moms would love to be stay-at-home-moms. Some stay-ay-home-moms are seeking work.

    The structure of the family with two parents and extended family to help out with the children is a thing of the past and what is the structure of the home life is evolving. We are in the pains of labor transition. We do not yet know what will come of it.

    I agree that children are the losers. More than education, children need a steady adult in their daily lives. The adult is their education. Who knows the child better and cares more for the child than the parent?

    The state cannot replace the parent. As we look more and more to the state to take over parenting and ask less of the state to provide incentives for decent wages so parents can be creative and have an easier time balancing work and family responsibilities, we arrive at a “crisis: in education.

    If the state is unable to educate children in K through 12th grade, how in the world is the state going to meet the needs of the youngest and most vulnerable of children from birth to three, if both parents are working to make ends meet?

    There is a myth in the culture that if you work hard enough you can have it all and yet we are seeing that the children are suffering. Children need their parents, children need the steady relationship of the person who cares for them more than anyone else in the world.

    We cannot control our children’s lives but we can be there for them as parents.

    From Rachel Carson:
    “If a child is to keep his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in.”

  6. Ammon Nelson April 15, 2013 at 1:48 pm - Reply

    @ Erin:
    I agree with the general sentiment that the “women’s lib” movement has contributed to the casualty of men and fatherhood.
    However, it would be a mistake to say that it is “women’s sins” that caused this. The sins you listed are shared by both genders, and people from both genders are to blame for the current state of gender politics and the family.

    One of the things that really gets under my skin about any gender based classifications is the same problem with personality tests, and political labels. Instead of using these classifications (gender, political affiliation, personality type) to better understand another person’s point of view and frame of reference, we tend to use these labels and classifications to pigeonhole others and paint with a broad brush to avoid thinking and treating people as individuals.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.