How Machiavelli Made Me a Better Mom

Suzanne Evans says his principles saved her family and her sanity

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 6, 2013 12:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – We've met Tiger Mom, Wolf Dad, French Mom, and even Nursing Mom. Now it's time for Machiavellian Mom. Suzanne Evans writes in the Wall Street Journal that she was at wit's end trying to manage her family of four kids under age 8—until she came across a copy of Machiavelli's The Prince and applied its principles to her life. For example:

  • Divide and conquer: Evans pitted two of her kids against each other in a "not-so-friendly" competition on report cards. Her daughter did well and got rewarded; her son got nothing but the sting of defeat. By the end of the year, however, both had great grades. "By setting my kids against each other, I ultimately got what I wanted from them…and they both benefited."

  • Lying to the kids: Good rulers need to lie sometimes if it's for the greater good, advised Machiavelli. Evans went away with her husband on a weekend getaway but told the kids it was a business trip to avoid hurt feelings. "Don't feel guilty for lying to your kids if it makes you happy and relaxed…because having a happy, relaxed mom always benefits a child."
  • Ends justify the means: Machiavelli is often associated with this phrase, although he actually said, "In the actions of all men, and especially of princes…one judges by the result.'" Evans applied this when her husband wanted to have another kid, a "result" she couldn't abide. Instead, she told him to get a vasectomy and withheld "affection in bed" until he made the doctor's appointment.
Click for the full column, which is a preview of Evans' book out next week.

A stamp featuring Machiavelli.
A stamp featuring Machiavelli.   (Shutterstock)
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There is nothing scheming or manipulative about following the path set down by Machiavelli. It is all about maintaining power and laying down the law with a firm hand. - Suzanne Evans, Wall Street Journal

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