Interview with Sharon Lerner, author of “The War on Moms”

A Mother in the Trenches articleimage 252x300 Interview with Sharon Lerner, author of The War on Moms The War on Moms has received amazing reviews as a must read for “anyone who cares what’s happening to women.” That’s definitely our readership. What are the top 3 things we need to know?

1) That if mothers are having a hard time balancing the demands of work (or just staying afloat financially) and taking care of their families, they’re not alone.

2) That it’s probably not their fault if they feel overwhelmed, because, without paid leave, good flexible work options, and decent affordable childcare, most mothers in this country wind up struggling in one way or another.

3) That we can’t solve these problems alone. Just as they’re the result of decisions about national policy, the solutions will also come from there, too.

Your book also addresses the war between moms, revealing the real cause of the supposed rift between employed and stay-at-home mothers. Tell us more about that.

I think women in the two camps into which we’re supposed to be divided – working and stay-at-home – have way more in common than we often think. In fact, most stay-at-home moms are, at other points, working mothers. There’s lots of back-and-forth, and most of us share the same struggles – primarily to find enough time to care for our families while earning money, too.

I love how you show that in the “mommy wars” debate, the real enemy is not other women, but a nationwide indifference to what it’s really like for parents and families to survive today. Folks are so desperate to find the flexibility that employers just aren’t providing that work-from-home scams are on the rise. How can women tell the difference between real opportunities and phony ones?

Scams are most incredibly prevalent on-line, with the “bogus”-to-legit ratio being 54:1, last I checked. For starters, if you have to put money down to find out about or gain access to the job opportunity, it’s probably a scam.

One chapter in your book is titled: ’Til Dishes Do Us Part: The Problem with Blaming Men. Where do men factor in to this struggle?

Men also struggle with increasing work hours and decreasing wages, so many of the struggles around time emerge because both partners in a couple are facing similar demands in the workplace. No one has enough time, which really stresses a family.

What can we, as citizens, do to demand more accountability around these issues from our government?

The first, and I think the biggest, step is to recognize that these problems are external and start on the policy level. As I said, I think that’s where they’ll be solved, too. That means to highlight, celebrate and try to replicate our successes (paid leave on the state level, for instance). It also means getting angry and making noise about our failures. Everyone should know that we’re one of tiny handful of countries in the world without paid leave, so we can gain momentum to change it.

Yes! At the screening of “Miss Representation” I was shocked to learn that the U.S is one of only four countries that doesn’t offer paid leave to new mothers — the others being Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho. You’re right that it’s time to get angry and do some rabble-rousing. Thanks for helping get this very important dialogue going, Sharon!

pixel Interview with Sharon Lerner, author of The War on Moms