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Machiavellian Mom


Photo: Ethan Pines/The Wall Street Journal

Tiger Mom has finally met her match. Meet Suzanne Evans, author and self-professed Machiavellian Mom, who used the maxims of Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince to become, well, a better mom. Case in point:

'A Captain ought…[to] endeavor with every art to divide the forces of the enemy, either by making him suspicious of his men…or by giving him cause…to separate his forces and, because of this, become weaker.'

I was already familiar with the strategy of "divide and conquer"; our kids are masters at pitting my husband and me against each other to get what they want. I decided it was time to use this maxim to my own advantage.

To that end, I "divided" Teddy and my 8-year-old stepson Daniel by pitting them against each other in a not-so-friendly competition over who could do better in school.

"Excellent!" I praised Teddy when she brought home a nearly perfect second-grade report card. I then rewarded her with a celebratory family dinner at the restaurant of her choice. On the other front, Daniel, whose report card wasn't so stellar, got nothing, other than the shame of losing the competition—to his younger sister no less, as I reminded him.

But this defeat ignited his competitive spirit, and by the end of the school year, both Teddy and Daniel brought home outstanding report cards. Bottom line: By setting my kids against each other, I ultimately got what I wanted from them…and they both benefited.

See if you too can become a better parent through Machiavelli: Link

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