Ask any stay-at-home mom or dad and they’ll tell you they’ve heard some pretty rude comments about their decision to be at home with their kids. Although the intent of the comments may not be to offend, that’s exactly what they often do. Here are some of the common things stay-at-home parents hear a lot—and really wish they didn’t.
1. “Your partner must make a lot of money for you guys to be able to afford it.” This is among the most common misperceptions of families with one stay-at-home parent. Most families make all sorts of sacrifices in order for one of the parents to stay home full-time. Of course, the comment could be true—maybe dad is able to stay home because mom has a prestigious, high-paying position. But that still doesn’t make commenting on the family’s financial situation acceptable.
2. “But you went to university! Isn’t staying home a waste of your education?” People change career paths all the time. The (insulting) implication in this comment is that a parent shouldn’t be proud to choose full-time parenthood over a career. Also, a post-secondary education has benefits other than just career preparation.
Stay-at-home moms vs. dads: There's a difference! 3. “You must have so much free time!” Pfft. Between cooking, cleaning, errands and caring for children, most stay-at-home moms and dads barely have time to shower, let alone enjoy tons of free time.
4. “I don’t know how you do it. I could never stay at home all day with my kids.” That’s fine—you do you. But the comment comes off as super judgmental. Talk about a back-handed compliment! If you’ve made this comment to a SAHM before and you work full-time outside the home, imagine if someone said to you, “I don’t know how you do it—I could never be away from my kids all day.”
5. “You don’t work? Aren’t you setting a bad example for your daughters? What about feminism?” This comment assumes that being a stay-at-home mother isn’t a worthy thing to do. What’s more, a child’s mom isn’t her only female role model. Unless she lives in a bubble, she’ll surely be exposed to all sorts of women in her life. Oh, and yes, you can totally be a SAHM and a feminist. Feminism means believing that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. There’s nothing un-feminist about choosing to stay home with the kids.
6. “Since you’re home all day, can you please do ____ for me?” See “You must have so much free time!” above. It’s simply unfair and almost never correct to assume that stay-at-home parents have all sorts of available time during the day.
7. “But you’ll go back to work when your kids are in school, right?” As if the possibility of continuing to stay at home is ludicrous.
8. “But daycare prepares kids for school.” Well, yeah. It does. It teaches them how to interact positively with other kids, and how to work within a daily routine. But parents at home can provide these opportunities, too. And the truth is, all kids will adjust to kindergarten in their own time.
So, what should you say if a fellow parent mentions that he or she stays home with the kids? Best thing to do is make no assumptions. Try: “That’s interesting. Do you enjoy it?” Can’t go wrong.