How Machiavelli saved my family

How Machiavelli saved my family

Newly married, my husband, Eric, and I moved to a new home with our kids. Now we would start trying to blend our families.

From the beginning, it was total chaos. There were endless chores, to say nothing of the logistics of caring for four kids under 8 (two from our previous marriages and two we’d had together). At the same time, I had just started a new full-time job writing legal briefs from home, and I was trying to finish a dissertation for my Ph.D. in history. All of which meant that I was trapped inside for days at a time with my kids, whose constant bickering was driving me nuts.

Like millions of other modern moms, I tried to change them by yelling and nagging. This, of course, only made their behavior worse. After one especially trying day, I stomped off to my home office. Too exhausted to work, I sat at my desk and stared at a dusty shelf of books. And there I saw it: an old copy of “The Prince.”

Pulling it from the shelf, I studied its cover—a portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli. His determined eyes stared out humbly at me; his thin lips turned up in a slight, knowing smile; his stance, powerful and confident—everything that I was not at that point in my life.

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