Where is the love? How parenting magazines discuss the “mommy wars” and why it matters

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Eaves, Katherine L.

Eaves, Katherine L. (2008). Where is the love? How parenting magazines discuss the “mommy wars” and why it matters. In Proceedings: 4th Annual Symposium: Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University, p.31-32


In June 1990, Newsweek coined the term “mommy wars” to describe the cultural tug-of-war between women who work outside the home and women who stay home to care for children. Historical and contemporary literature on feminism, women in the workplace, women in the home and motherhood, suggest the “mommy wars” are more than just a bitter disagreement between two groups of mothers. This paper argues both working and stay-at-home mothers are frustrated with the antiquated corporate and societal ideals of women and motherhood. A critical discourse analysis method was used to analyze the content of Parents magazine from 1990 to 2006. The sample included 54 articles focusing on working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, the “mommy wars,” or the larger social issues present in each discussion. The sample was analyzed for recurrent themes and discussion of the social issues regarding each theme. Of the 54 articles analyzed, four were found to directly address the “mommy wars,” and no recurrent themes were present. Three prevalent themes were found regarding discussion of working mothers, and four themes were present in discussion of stay-at-home mothers. Discussion of social and corporate issues was largely absent.

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Paper presented to the 4th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Hughes Metropolitan Complex, Wichita State University, April 25, 2008.
Research completed at the Elliott School of Communication, Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences