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
A stamp featuring Machiavelli.   (Shutterstock)

(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.

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Showing 3 of 36 comments
Apr 10, 2013 5:06 AM CDT
Crap? Good examples for kids.
Apr 9, 2013 4:22 PM CDT
The solutions suggested in The Prince produce only temporary results, but they are not sustainable. If you lie to your loved ones it is only a matter of time before you get caught and when you do it will cost you all credibility. Deliberately pitting people against each other you will eventually be identified as the source of arbitrary power and the common enemy of those you tyrannize for what you want. Use sex as an instrument of power in a marriage and you are just asking to be replaced. In short, take what you want by manipulation and bullying and those you use will overthrow you sooner or later. The big problem with Machiavelli is his inability to see others as having any intrinsic human dignity and to earn respect rather than usurp it. Because he thinks himself more entitled than everybody else around him, he steals everything he gets and earns nothing that he stole. He is what we know as a psychopath, incapable of conscience. We do not need his kind in any position of authority as Wall Street and corporate board room have proven.
Apr 6, 2013 3:53 PM CDT
I had a tailor in lower Manhattan in to ol' days who could use Machiavelli in every sentence in his sales pitch: "MACHIAVELLI a very good suit for $80.00."