Defending your choice to leave the workforce
Stay at Home Mom Looks for Rebuttal
TDS Reader Contributors
A Decision to Stay Home
Confessions of a One-Income Family
The Value of a Stay-at-Home Parent
Need Stay-at-Home Mom Rebuttal
I recently became a stay-at-home mom when we had our first baby six months ago. My husband and I are living very frugally so that I could give up my job and raise my son. But one thing that really annoys me is when people find out that I'm a stay-at-home mom, their response is "Boy, I'd really like to do that but we really can't afford it." Or "I'm not able to give up my job." It gets to me because it implies that we are very wealthy and living in the lap of luxury. Do any of your readers have any advice on how to handle this situation? Or any rebuttals to the comments that would get the point across without offending the people (many of the comments come from my husband's co-workers).
When working moms mention to me that they wish they could stay home like I am, but that they could never afford it, I say "It's a difficult adjustment, but with a little sacrificing here and there, we're doing okay." When they hear this, their assumption that I'm living in the lap of luxury usually changes to a question about my frugal lifestyle (which I'm always happy to share) and how they can make it work for them too.
It's Just Amazement
These comments are most likely out of amazement rather than spite. You might try answering them this way. "We thought we'd never be able to afford it either. But once we added up all the costs of working, we found that if we were careful with our pennies, I could indeed stay home and raise my own children." You may end up with some "converts" once they find out exactly how you and your husband are coping on one salary.
Stay-at-home mom of 4, living well on less than $20,000 per year
You Are Rich
I've got the perfect answer for the woman who has to put up with the comments about people thinking that they're (the woman and hubby) rich. Let them think that. You already are rich. You made yourself the opportunity of staying home with the baby. Those first years with baby are more important than money to keep up with the Jones's. You're one of the few who realize that.
Something to Think About
I went through the exact situation when I decided to quit my job to stay at home with my two children.
Sometimes the people who say this aren't necessarily implying that you are so wealthy as much as the fact they are trying to justify their own guilt for not having the courage and discipline to "sacrifice" the material goods of the world for their children's' well-being. When I think this is the case, I usually let it slide because I have to kind of feel sorry for them. However, when I think the situation requires a response I usually say, "I know I am lucky" or "Well, I think it's all a matter of priority." This usually ends the conversation. In my experience, it has not offended the people I am speaking with, rather it has sent them away in deep thought. In two cases, I found the people coming to me for help as they began contemplating staying home as well!
Yes, You Can!
When people say to me "Boy, I sure wish I could stay home," I respond by saying, "You can. Sell one of your cars, get rid of your credit cards and lower your standard of living like I've done." To the people who look down on me for staying home, I say "God has blessed me with 2 lovely children. It is my responsibility to raise them properly. People who use daycare shouldn't bother having kids, because they are obviously inconvenient for them." Of course, this last comment is just for the nasty ones!
The Most Important Job
I also have been faced with the type of comments you mentioned, some on the borderline of being rude towards my decision to stay at home.
However, being a mom to my children is the most important job I could ever have, and I needed to know I was doing my best for them, not for the company I worked for. And that I believe EVERYONE can live on less than what they presently do; it is a matter of priorities.
When these replies are given to the "Gee, I wish I could quit my job" with heartfelt sincerity, I think it makes people think twice about their own lifestyles and what they are putting ahead of their husband, and children.
Good Luck and God Bless. You know you have made the decision that works for you and your family and that is really all that matters!
You're Not Alone
I, too, am a stay-home mom. I worked as a lawyer for eight years, then quit my job when my son was 9 months old because I truly believe it is the best thing for him. However, I do find that there is little support these days for the few of us who do this.
I would suggest telling those who imply that you live a luxurious life that you have had to make a much tighter budget for your family, but that you're willing to do without a few extra things so that you will be able to give more time and attention to your child.
As for my supportive advice to this reader, I would offer that I am constantly criticized by parents who both work full-time outside the home, as though I am doing something bad for my son. When I tell people that my son does not go to daycare, they look at me as though I'm claiming to have been abducted by aliens! Then they typically ask (with a wrinkled up nose) "How is he ever going to learn any social skills?" I truly believe that I am doing the best for my child. My theory is that parents who would rather live in a luxurious house, wear diamond jewelry, and drive expensive cars than spend quality time with their children have invented this "social skills" theory as a way to justify their dumping their children into the daycare corral each day.
It's a Choice
When my husband and I made the decision for me to leave the workforce, we got the same reactions for our co-workers (we worked together). When people would say stuff like, "I wish I could afford to do that," I would say something like, "It's not that we can afford it, we have just chosen to sacrifice some things so that we can do it." By emphasizing that "we" had "chosen," it didn't seem like a put-down to the other person.
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It's No Vacation
We are also a one-income family. However, it is my husband that stays home while I go to work. We have heard all of the comments and then some. We especially hear comments from men like "Oh that's the life," or "Must be nice," or my favorite, "I would do that in a second if I could." It still amazes me that people think staying home with young children equates to a vacation. We sometimes even get comments inferring that my husband is too lazy to get a "real" job.
In any case, you should first resolve that you won't let these people get you down. Perhaps some of them truly do wish they could stay home, but I suspect that there are just as many that would not care to make the necessary sacrifices.
Don't be shy in telling people that you have made these sacrifices. Be proud of it. Sometimes I try to laugh about it. For example, when my co-workers are comparing their expensive weekend activities, I announce that I spent the weekend "sailing." Of course they know that I mean rummage saling, but I'm sure that I had just as much fun as they did.
When it comes down to it, tell them that you have made decisions that work best for your family and feel that you can't afford NOT to stay at home.
Offer Them A Loan
I just tell everyone we are rich and that is why I can stay home and live a life of luxury, eating bonbons and watching soaps. I also ask them if they need a loan. They usually shut up, because I say it very convincingly. Never take life too seriously.
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