Mommy wars resurface following Parents magazine poll

Published: Friday, July 12 2013 2:15 p.m. MDT

In a recent Parents magazine poll, 92 percent of participants agreed that mothers have the world's toughest job a statement some commentators are debating and rejecting.

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In a recent Parents magazine poll, 92 percent of participants agreed that mothers have the world's toughest job — a statement some commentators are debating and rejecting.

The poll, which was published in the August 2013 issue of Parents magazine, attempted to examine the so-called "Mommy Wars" by asking both stay-at-home mothers and work-outside-the-home mothers about their experiences.

Members of both groups (17 percent of stay-at-home mothers and 18 percent of full-time working mothers) felt guilt over their work choice. Nearly 35 percent of working mothers worried about whether they were being a good mother in relation to working versus 20 percent of stay-at-home mothers.

But despite any differences, nearly all the participants (92 percent) agreed: "There's no tougher job than being a mom."

The poll has caused some to balk at the superlative phrase.

Feminist columnist Jill Filipovic tweeted the article saying, "92% of moms agree that 'there's no tougher job than being a mom.' The other 8% are rocket scientists and coal miners."

Comedian Bill Burr made a similar statement during a 2012 show:

"What would you rather be doing: drilling to the center of the Earth, shaking hands with the devil? Every time there's a rumble in the ground you're waiting for the whole thing to collapse down on you so they can write that folk song about you? Or would you rather be up in the sunshine, running around with a couple of toddlers that you can send to bed anytime you want?"

The "toughest job" phrase, and variants of it, have been debated and rejected several times in the past few years. Last year, the statement came into question when political adviser Hillary Rosen came under fire after stating Anne Romney, who was a stay-at-home mother, had "never worked a day in her life."

Eleanor Barkhorn of the Atlantic wrote an article about the history of the statement and why it causes so much controversy.

Barkhorn argues that the statement can be too easily dismissed by listing some of the world's most challenging careers.

Instead, Barkhorn referenced C.S. Lewis: Rather than declaring motherhood the toughest job, Lewis replaced "toughest" with "important" in a letter to a single-mother in 1955.

"Emphasizing the importance of caring for children and running a household sticks closer to the truth — and may even inspire dads as well as moms to take it seriously," Burkhorn wrote.

Katie Harmer is a journalism graduate of Brigham Young University and writes for Mormon Times. Email: kharmer@deseretnews.com Twitter: harmerk

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