What should she do about friends that don't respect her decision to stay-at-home?
Respect for a Stay-at-Home Mom
by Gary Foreman
My Story: Living on One Income
A Decision to Stay Home
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I've been a stay-at-home mom since our first child was born about 6 years ago. I love it! Really feel like I'm making a better life for our family. But a few of my friends (some from where I used to work) seem to think that I'm not living up to my potential. It's as if they don't respect the work that I do at home. I have a master's degree and know that what I'm doing is important. What can I do to convince these friends that I'm happy and fulfilled and really don't appreciate their condescension.
Unless you're unusually thick-skinned, feeling disrespected always hurts. Especially if the disrespect comes from people that you hold in high regard. Let's see what we can do to change some of that disrespect or at least take the sting out of it.
First, let's do a little research into stay-at-home parents. According to the U.S. Census Bureau we have over 5 million SAH moms. And "nearly one-fourth of all married-couple families in the U.S. had a stay-at-home mother."
We also found out that they were a fairly well-educated lot. "Thirty-two percent of the stay-at-home mothers had at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 38 percent of the other mothers." We can conclude that you're not alone and that many SAH moms are pretty smart!
Chances are that won't be enough to change your former co-workers' pre-conceived notions. Perhaps something that's a little closer to home will make the point.
You might find that they'd be impressed if they realized how much you're earning by staying at home. Not only income coming in, but by saving reducing expenses. It's a good idea for most stay-at-home parents to make the calculation. Add up the cost of childcare, convenience and restaurant foods, work clothes, work lunches and the extra income taxes. You'll find that you're "making" a reasonable salary by working at home.
Explain that you have more time with your children. There's no guarantee but that could lead to a closer relationship and fewer troubles as they grow up.
And tell your friends how the arrangement has brought you and your mate closer together. You each perform certain duties that the other needs to rely upon. That builds trust and deepens the relationship. But, unless they've been in your shoes they'll probably not fully understand.
Ultimately, it says more about them than it does about you. If they believe that you couldn't possibly be happy, there's probably not much you can do about it. You'll just waste your time and energy trying to convince them.
And, much as you'd like them to respect you and your decision, you can't force them. Fortunately, you're not responsible for what they think. Just how you react to it. You can decide whether their opinions and friendship add value to your life.
More important is that you respect yourself and your husband does, too. Part of that is recognizing the importance of what you're doing.
You've already taken the first step - calculating the dollar value of what you're doing. And you've recognized that your family relationships will be different because you chose to stay at home.
Next, take the time to list all the non-monetary advantages in being a stay-at-home parent. It might even be a good idea to ask your spouse and others who see you frequently what they think are advantages. Even if they disagree with your decision they could have interesting insights.
Then make a bit of a change in your lifestyle. Find some new friends who share your lifestyle. Even if it's only on Facebook or Twitter. They'll have a greater respect for the challenges you face and appreciate what it takes to overcome them because their experiences are similar to your's.
You've made a choice for your life and for your family. While we all like to have other people approve of our decisions and respect us, ultimately you have to live with yourself. And, sometimes that means believing in our decision even if no one else stands beside us. At least in this case you have a spouse who agrees with what you've decided.
Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.
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