Firing Manager Mom: How Today's Busy Mom Can Get Her Life Back
Manager Mom Syndrome: a phenomenon in which the mother's supervision, direction, and monitoring are seen as constantly essential for a smoothly running home. In this scenario, Mom is Family President, Chief Servant, and First Responder.
The goal of Manager Mom is to get the work done now and to get it done right. Unfortunately, this agenda has several negative consequences.
- Children are seen as a series of daily jobs that need to get done—rather than as people to be enjoyed—and their independence is squashed.
- Dad falls into the role of Mom's "helper," but he is often perceived as not carrying his load with regard to childcare and household tasks.
- Manager Mom Syndrome often means that Mom feels overwhelmed.
According to Dr. Thomas W. Phelan, author of the bestselling child discipline book 1-2-3 Magic, the solution to Firing Manager Mom is to change our basic family model. "The idea of kids and dads 'helping,'" he says, "is actually the problem itself. Why? Because Mom remains Family President. We need to create what I call 'total responsibility transfers' that truly free Mom from having to do certain childcare and household tasks as well as from having to worry about these jobs getting done."
Not surprisingly, the biggest victim of the Manager Mom Syndrome is Mom. Mom overdoses on kindness, helpfulness, organizational skills, and commitment to getting the work done. In the process of expressing these normally constructive traits, Mom loses her healthy free time—and herself.
Fortunately, Manager Mom is a condition that is curable. For Mom to be emancipated, though, both Moms and Dads need to hear some things they might really not want to hear and to do some things that might be difficult—at least for a while. And—surprise, surprise—the kids have to be included in some meaningful way, not by means of the dribble we usually offer them. The effort is worth it.