.By Woman’s Day | Secrets to Your Success
Being a mom is one of the most demanding jobs in the world. And while women who take on paying work in addition to parenthood have their hands full, they represent the majority of mothers. “Women at home with their children represent only a small percentage of families in the U.S.,” says Dr. Beth Anne Shelton, professor of sociology at University of Texas at Arlington. Yet working moms-just like their stay-at-home counterparts-often face harsh judgments from those who question their parenting situation. Here are nine remarks working mothers hate to hear and what to do if someone says one to you. Photo by Thinkstock
1. Do you really have to work?
“Most women (and men) work because they need the earnings and/or health benefits,” says Dr. Shelton. But a family’s financial situation isn’t anyone else’s business. And even if someone’s sure a family can survive on one parent’s paychecks alone, they might use the second income for “luxuries” like saving for their children’s future college education, explains Dr. Shelton.
Still, Terri Bly, a small business owner and mom from St. Paul, MN, doesn’t think mothers should feel bad about working when money isn’t a motivator. “I love my children more than my job, but I need the combination of intellectual stimulation, pursuing my own goals and raising two amazing little girls,” she says. “My brain lights up when I have a balance of career and home.” Feel free to share that rationale with someone who asks if you have to work-or simply say you’re not comfortable discussing your family’s finances.
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2. Aren’t you concerned about not being there for your kids?
“Even when a mom’s at work, the ultimate responsibility for her children and their care lies with her,” says Michelle LaRowe, author of Working Mom’s 411: How to Manage Kids, Career and Home. Besides, children can benefit from being around other caregivers, says Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, a service that helps people find flexible and telecommuting career opportunities. Fell, a working mom, herself, suggests mothers respond to that guilt-inducing question with: “My children are with people who are adding value to their lives and supporting my ideas of how they should be raised.”
Or, if you’re like JJ DiGeronimo of Cleveland, OH, explain that you make up for hours apart from your kids with lots of quality time together. “I give my children the one-on-one time they demand when I’m home. I’m not sure I’d be playing on the floor as much if I was there all the time,” she says.
3. Did you hear about that study on children of working moms?
Everyone seems to have a know-it-all friend or relative who likes to mention “research” which “proves” that some parenting choices doom children. But only a mom knows what’s best for her family, says Fell. Plus, “studies flip flop,” she adds. In other words, best parenting practices are always changing. So instead of second-guessing yourself, avoid the Debbie Downers as best you can. And when people share the latest findings with you, try ending the conversation with “thanks for sharing” or Fell’s go-to response: “I’ve read that there are lots of benefits for children of working moms.”
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4. It must be nice to get a break from the kids.
“Working is a break in that a mom is getting the chance to focus on her professional self,” says Fell. But, she points out, not everyone is blessed with a job she enjoys; sometimes it’s just a paycheck. This remark hits a nerve because working moms rarely have a real reprieve. After all, a mom’s still a caring, concerned mom when she’s at work. If someone slings that statement your way, acknowledge that all moms need a break once in a while. It could segue into suggesting a future girls’ night out!
5. You’re so lucky to work from home. But why do you need a nanny?
This implies that work-from-home moms get to play with their kids and work simultaneously-as if that’s actually possible! Dawn Allcot of West Babylon, NY, a freelance writer, admits she can’t be productive without help. “I need to pay someone to watch my toddlers so I can work,” she says. And that’s actually the perfect reply for anyone who’s made to feel that her home-based gig is a breeze. In fact, Allcot notes, many employers who allow telecommuting ask for proof of childcare if kids are home. Although moms working from home do some housework/childcare during business hours, hired help goes a long way. “If a parent can concentrate on work by having a nanny, the work is less likely to invade the non-work hours,” says Dr. Shelton.
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6. “Why have kids if someone else is going to take care of them?”
Ouch! This hints that you entered into parenthood without thinking it through. A family friend recently chastised Laura Perez of Newark, NJ, for considering having a second child when she was already a working mom of one. “It’s horrible to think that you’re not caring for your child properly. But just because you’re a working mom doesn’t mean you care for your child any less. You just need to find the proper balance,” she says.
And that balance is the often the result of much planning and prioritizing, says Fell. “No matter our motivations, the decision to be a working mom (or not) is a difficult and personal one that comes with careful consideration.” Don’t hesitate to point that out should you feel like you’re being criticized.
7. You have another school event? Didn’t you just leave early last week?
Rosemarie Poska, a nurse manager and mom of three from Staten Island, NY, often feels the tug of war between her work schedule and busy calendar of family activities, so she doesn’t enjoy when coworkers question her work ethic. “Some people say, ‘you work banker’s hours,’ after I put in two hours before they got to the office, didn’t take a lunch break and hardly went to the bathroom!” she says. Dr. Shelton doesn’t think anyone should resent parents who attend the occasional school event during the day. “We should recognize that everyone benefits from children who are well cared for,” she says.
If a nosy coworker passes a comment like this, Fell recommends keeping your response polite and professional without apologizing. Try: “It’s great the company allows me to adjust my schedule to get my work done and make my family a priority.”
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8. “I’d miss my kids too much if I worked.”
Though the sentiment might have nothing to do with the working mother who hears it, it can be perceived to mean that working moms must be so cold-hearted to leave their kids every day, says LaRowe. The truth: “Missing your kids whenever you’re away from them is ‘mommyversal,'” she says. This is a good opportunity to share how adorable it is when your little ones rush to the door to greet you, make pictures for your office or call you at work to tell you about their days.
9. Women should be at home with their children.
Can you say old school? “This indicates that mothers are the only ones who can raise their children,” says Fell, adding that today’s family structures aren’t like the ones of yesteryear: Grandparents in the same household, single parents and stay-at-home dads are quite common. “If you hear this, take a deep breath and remember that someone who tells you this comes from a different perspective.”
Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a psychology professor and clinical psychologist from Los Angeles, CA, kept working after her daughters were born because she needed the money. So when a family member said to her, “Once you had your child, you gave up your dreams,” she was angry. “It’s sad if mothers are depicted as women without dreams,” she says. “My legacy for my daughters will not be ‘things,’ but rather my pursuit of my dreams. What better way to give them permission to do the same for themselves?”
Original article appeared on WomansDay.com
This was an interesting article. I wanted to respond to it by writing some things on my blog about “What Not to Say to Stay -At – Home Moms” . I know everyone is all about girl power and all that these days, and how women obviously are supposed to be equal to men in EVERY way. I’m not so sure I agree , but it is a free country, and people can read both this article and my blog, and make their own decisions. How cool is that?
So here goes.
Things NOT to say to a stay at home mom.
1. Don’t you WORK?~ Heh. Really? This almost doesn’t deserve a response. But in a spirit of compassion for the ignorant, I will say (: “Um. Yes. I work. I get up at 5:30 am. I make breakfast for my children while starting the laundry. I do the dishes. Feed the kids. Start the school work, (we homeschool) , prepare the next day’s lessons, take out the laundry, sweep, mop, clean the whole house, start preparing for lunch, take care of assorted animals, do all the shopping, and so on and so forth. And this is all usually before lunch on any given day. Of course if it’s a really busy day , I also have doctor appointments, other family obligations, church ,ending the evenings sometimes around 11 pm hopefully! and don’t forget sleep, somewhere in there!Just to get up and do it all over again!” So , the answer is yes! Yes, I work!
2. It must be nice to have enough money to do that. ~ Uh. Okay. I didn’t realize I was secretly among the wealthy. I mean you DO see what I’m wearing? Thrift store finds. I’m driving a 15 year old used vehicle. We live in a nice, but old house. No new furniture. We coupon. We eat macaroni. My children DO NOT wear $100 dollar jeans and sneakers. We don’t eat out everyday. The majority of our money spent on “extras” is homeschooling materials. So, it’s a choice. Not because we can “afford” it.
3. Don’t you get sick of being around your kids all day every day? ~ Well, in a word, no. I love my children. They are some of my favorite people. Maybe that’s weird. But , it was hard work getting them here, and harder work keeping them here in the land of the living. (Major complications with pregnancy , birth, and illnesses.) So, I am so thankful they are still with me, that I don’t want to pawn them off on someone else. I know that one day they’ll grow up and have their own lives, and I want to make every minute I have with them count!
4. WOW. Your husband must be a real chauvinist.~ Yes , believe it or not, I have actually HAD people say that ! And the answer to that is “NO!” He is not. He takes care of me and my children. He works very hard so I don’t have to leave them. He believes that women are the fine china and deserve to be treated accordingly. I don’t find that insulting. I am a well educated, well spoken , capable adult. But like it or not, we ladies are NOT men! We aren’t rugged , rough individuals. We deserve to be feminine, and cherished! Why is that considered chauvinistic?
5. and finally …..Don’t you miss ADULT conversation?~ Well, I am married. My husband surely qualifies as an adult. I visit with my mom and dad on a regular basis. I don’t live in a cave. I go to church. I see people at the grocery store. Besides, what’s so great about most of the adult conversation these days? Have you seen the quality of some of that anymore? 🙂
So there you go. 5 things to definitely NOT say to a stay at home mom.
That’s both sides of a very touchy issue for you to read .
Maybe I didn’t scare off too many people! Hope this finds everyone having a great day! Thanks for stopping by!