Work or stay at home? It's still a quandary for moms

She says she wants her sons to learn that mothers can also be professionals and bosses and not have to give up career aspirations just because they have children.

No right or wrong answer

Mommy Wars — that often unspoken judgment that persists over the choices that both working at stay-at-home moms make — can be avoided if mothers become more comfortable about the choices they make and why they've made them, says Lynn Jarrett, a coach and author.

"Understand that every woman is 'wired' differently. Different personalities have unique approaches and ideas on parenting," Jarrett says in an e-mail. "There's no 'right' or 'wrong' answer, but what fits best for you and your family needs. Stop 'should-ing' on yourself."

The debate and guilt over a mother's decision to work or not comes even amid major demographic changes. In 1970, women contributed a median of 27% to their families' income, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2004, the most recent data available, that percentage jumped to about 35%. And the percentage of wives who earn more than their husbands do has climbed from 17.8% in families where both spouses work to 25% in 2004. About 70% of women with children under 18 are in the labor force.

"I know many moms who work full time, some who work part time, and some who stay at home," says Jeanne Hurlbert, a professor of sociology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

"Probably the biggest feature we all share is that we're unsure about the decisions we've made, about whether we're doing the 'right' thing for our families, particularly for our children," she says.

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