Most of this book is made up of quotes from wealthy at-home mothers who seem eager to talk about how stupid, lazy, and dependent they are. We don't hear from mothers who are financially savvy, but who nevertheless have chosen (for all kinds of reasons, including financial) to spend some years out of their lives at home with their kids. There are also quotes from working moms about how exciting their careers are, what good examples they set for their children, how wonderful their kids are, and how fabulous they are. We learn that Bennetts herself is "an extremely committed and engaged parent," she "loves to cook," spends "inordinate amounts of time arranging flowers," and is "utterly absorbed by such tasks as the selection of sheets and towels." Her self-absorption really got tiresome.
The working moms interviewed employ full-time nannies at $30,000 a year, and have flexible schedules. One woman solved her child care issues by buying two additional homes (one for her aunt and one for her parents) near her own home. This made it possible, she says, for her to work and to have a family. Another working mom comments that she is in demand as a dinner-party companion, since she is not the "dreaded housewife." One claims her working status has given her the "power" to decide where the couple's pool will be installed at their country home. This is why they work? To be a desirable party guest and to dictate the location of a pool? Bennetts should spend some time in the real world and figure out why the rest of us work. She should also spend some time with some real at-home mothers and find out, shockingly, that most of them work hard and are interesting people. She should also examine the contradictions and double standards in the book. The book is, in part, dedicated to the family's full-time nanny. How strange that a book deriding women who take care of their own children full time should be dedicated to a woman who takes care of another family's children full time. Wasn't the nanny simply allowing herself to become financially dependent on Bennetts? And why didn't Bennetts set this woman straight?
Bennetts' point that women need to take care of themselves financially is valid, but this simple point is not well made. The droning on and on about how horrible at-home mothers are is senseless. The at-home mothers (usually given fake names, but she claims to have interviewed them) seemed only to voice Bennetts' own distain and lack of respect, and were indeed so stupid that I wondered where Bennetts managed to dig them up. In general, the book is a very negative, and unrealistic, portrayal of mothers, and it doesn't come close to addressing the real issues. It is also a very negative depiction of fathers, who are portrayed as unreliable cheaters who, common sense will tell you, cannot be counted on for anything. The book was disappointing, but Bennetts is a celebrity writer, not a scholar. For more serious books on this topic, check out Unbending Gender (by Joan Williams, a law professor) and The Price of Motherhood (by Ann Crittenden, a financial journalist and Pulitzer Prize nominee). Neither delivers a harangue against working or at-home mothers; they just deal with the issues.