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I work full time and have since my children were babies. I love my children beyond anything but have always felt like my working is being able to provide them with a life they would not have if I chose to stay home. My husband and I both love our jobs and we have an amazing support network around us to make it all work.
Recently, another mother made a comment to me along the lines of ‘why have kids if you are going to pay someone else to raise them’. This was in response to a comment I made about the cost of child care. This comment has really hurt me. Am I just being selfish? Should I be spending more time at home? Am i choosing my career over my kids? I used to be so sure about our choice but am feeling really rattled and unsure.
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If working makes you happy, it will only benefit your kids down the road. If you quit your job just to raise your kids and this isn't what you want to do, you will end up feeling resentment. It's impossible to avoid. But if you do what you feel you want to do or even need to do for the good of the family, the kids will be able to feel that. As the stay-at-home parent, my wife is no less bonded with our son. She spends her non-working hours focussing on him and he has never batted an eyelash about it. Just make sure whoever is home with your kids most of the time is a great caregiver who is aligned with your parenting philosophy. But that's another discussion. In terms of feeling guilty, let it go. The happiest families work best when each individual is happy.
As a working mother and school nurse, I can see several sides to this issue.
From a professional standpoint, I have noted that the children who appear to be the best adjusted and resilient have working parents. With that being said, there is a best scenario to this statement.
With 2 busy working parents, there are obviously some negatives due to time constraints and stress involved with a more hectic lifestyle.
From what I have observed, having one parent who works part-time (instead of full-time) allows a child the opportunity to mature, and problem solve while away from a parent's more intense oversight, yet have the comfort and enjoyment that comes with availability due to only working part-time.
However, we all do not have the luxury to work part-time, myself included, over the years. Kids adjust well to 2 working parents, and no other parent should give their unsolicited opinion on the rights and wrongs of being a working parent. Doling out judgment about your life choices and how you raise your kids rarely is appreciated or warranted.
I know that may not help you but just be reassured that your children will be fine and that this other parent is overstepping in a big way. In the long run, you will show your children what a strong independent working woman you are and serve as a role model in many ways.
I agree with Stella, it comes down to your own individual needs. I am one of those moms who has done this both ways. I worked full time when my first daughter was born, up until she was 7 years old, and I hated every minute of it. I was never satisfied in my work, either because of the specific job/company, but mainly because I felt a huge tug to be raising my daughter, and not a child care system. When my second daughter was born, it was going to cost my entire paycheck just to pay for my car, gas, and childcare, and so it was no longer financially reasonable for me to continue to work. I was lucky enough to have a spouse who could support the whole family in this area, and so I decided to stay home full time. Five years later, I landed a virtual position, and have been doing that now for 17 years, providing an income, an identity outside of being a mom, and a strong skillset for future jobs.
I don't think anyone has the right to tell you your decision to work full time, or stay home full time, is right or wrong. Others do not live in your world, have your same values, and therefore, should not take it upon themselves to "shame you." I applaud your efforts at kindness to this person, and if it comes up again, maybe gently take her aside (if you're in a group setting) and explain to her that your choices when it comes to parenting and working are based on yours and your family's life and it is working out well for you. I'm sure this will be evident as your kids become well-adjusted, balanced mini-adults!
Its such a hard one to balance with work and children especially when you hear comments about your choices that can eave you feeling unsettled. I found myself in a similar situation with self-doubt. I've come to find that the balance between your own self-care through work fulfilment as an adult and being at home full time to be there for the kids is based on the individual person. Someone once asked me that if I gave up work and stayed home full time as a mum, would I be the best mum I could be? For me, I find the time that I spend after work hours with my child is of better quality because I'm fulfilling a need in myself through work so that I have the head space to give my all to my daughter when we are together. For others I'm sure that being home full time as a mum is more fulfilling than working and they may feel that they are better mums for it. So I guess it comes down to you and what you feel works best for your family regardless of others' point of views on the topic.