Why You Need to Think Before You Speak to a Working Mom

15 remarks you should never say to a working mom

Mum and baby working from home
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When you're a working mom, some comments can just rub you the wrong way. The speaker may mean no harm in their remarks, but the underlying assumptions are still offensive.

So the next time you're speaking to a working mom, think before you speak. And try avoid these fifthteen working mom remarks that are bound to raise hackles.

Are you still working?  Oh, that must be SO hard!

Yes, I'm still working.

 What gave you the inclination that I was thinking about quitting?  I have a plan that includes creating a career that entices me and my children love playing at school all day long.  It's not hard, it's called WORK!

Your kids must complain about your working all the time.

I won't sit here and have a pity party with you over this comment.  Sure, sometimes they want us but once they become teenagers they won't want to be around.  So they want us now but don't want us later.  We may never win this battle. 

Being a parent is hard regardless if you work or not and you can't be there for everything and everyone without driving yourself crazy.

You worked so hard on your career.  It's great that it's your first priority!

Actually, my family is my top priority.  I work, in part, to support them.  I'm working hard on my career so that they will have the things I think they'll need down the road.

You've been away from your children all day, why is me-time important?

A happy mom makes a happy family.

 Don't you just want to head home and relax after a long day of work?  I can't do that for at least another three hours.  So if I choose to go for a pedicure on the way home I'll arrive at my house a happier human being.  All will be good.

We made the financial sacrifices so that I could stay home.

The assumption underlying this comment is that those of us who work, the majority of U.S. mothers, take on paid employment because of financial need, greed or poor planning.

In fact, there are many good reasons that moms work that have nothing to do with finances. Many of us enjoy our jobs and would be miserable home full time and a miserable mom leads to miserable kids.  Or, we've invested too much in our careers to give it up halfway -- often the case in professions that require an unbroken career path.

Do you trust your daycare?

Yes!  Do you know how much research I put into finding my daycare provider?  How many people I spoke to?  The choice of child care is one of the most important decisions a working mom makes. Obviously, I didn't take it lightly, and I did my best to make sure the person we hire is trustworthy and well vetted.

The other version of this question, which I hate almost as much, is "Isn't it hard to leave your kids every day with strangers?" By the time your child has been with a caregiver for even a few weeks, they're no longer strangers. My daughters' daycare teachers are close and loving friends of ours, and I know many families who stay in touch with their children's nannies long after they've stopped paying them for care.

How do you find time to work with children so little?

Um, a working mom finds time to work the same way her husband finds time to work.

Child care! This comment assumes that mom should stay home with the kids as the default caregiver, not dad.

Gosh you must feel like you're never home!

When someone makes this comment, a working mom will probably translate it as: "Your house must be a mess and you must eat out all the time."  

The truth is working parents learn to become extremely efficient at household management from morning to night. We learn which tasks to delegate, outsource or simply let go.

As for dinners, there's nothing wrong with take-out, crockpot meals, freezer meals, or 30 minute recipes.

I think he needs more attention at home.

This is like saying any kind of faulty behavior is because the working mom is working.  Yes, perhaps he does need more attention on the home front, but what is being done at the school?  How do you know he's  not getting attention at home?


Don't you wish you could be at home?

If I did, I would find a way to do so.  But I make my decisions based on my values and priorities.  I am working because some of my personal values are providing for my family, accomplishment, and hard work.  My top priority is contributing to my family's wealth as well as continuing to work on my career goals.  

How do you handle the guilt of not being home with your children?

How do you know I feel guilt?  I believe that guilt is a feeling that we can choose to acknowledge.  By practicing emotional intelligence I remember the reasons for why I've chosen the working mom lifestyle.  

Late night last night?  I hear Benadryl knocks them right out!

You have no idea what my night was like.  My children are not the only reason for bags under my eyes. Maybe I have other people in my life other than family that I care for.  Maybe I have dreams I want to fulfill that drive me to work into the night.  Maybe I was enjoying some one-on-one time with my husband.  Assuming things is not wise.

I could never let someone else raise my children.

This is one of the most offensive working mom comment you could make. You're basically saying that a working mom isn't raising her own children because she's not with them 100 percent of the time.

This is beyond false. As a working mom, you are the one who comforts your child when he's scared or sick at night. You arrange pediatrician appointments, choose child care and schooling, decide on activities and trips, attend parent-teacher conferences and oversee religious or moral education. You're the one who would step in front of a bus to protect your child's well-being.

Do you want to know who is raising my kid?  Ask them.  They'll say it's me, their mother.

Going to work must be a nice break for you!

Do you sometimes feel like your work with children? If so, this is no break, is it.

You're so lucky to be working!  I miss it, but I'm enjoying spending time with the kids.

This would feel like a punch in the gut.  Do you think I prefer to not spend time with my kids?

 And luck?  No.  It's a choice.  A choice to provide for my family, use my knowledge for a cause, and give my kids the life I want.  That's not luck, that's a plan.

Edited by Elizabeth McGrory.