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I am getting mom-shamed for going to work instead of staying home with my 6-month old. What should I do?

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"Nobody was more shocked then I was to learn at 43 I was pregnant."

Katrina, I am getting mom-shamed on a regular basis by my mother for going to work instead of choosing to stay home with my 6-month old.  My husband and I tried for many years to get pregnant and suffered through many miscarriages. It was a heartbreaking ordeal and we both coped by pouring our efforts into our careers.  Over the next 15 years we both became successful at our jobs. Nobody was more shocked then I was to learn at 43 I was pregnant. It was a high risk pregnancy and I needed to take the last months of my pregnancy off from work but we eventually had a beautiful boy.  I went back to work four weeks after his birth and my mom has been constantly ridiculing my decision since. She doesn’t understand why I don’t stay home after all the effort we put into trying to conceive. I have seen women take time off from their careers to raise their children and then can’t get back into their field after their children are grown. Financially I don’t have to work, we’d be OK, but it would be hard since we’re still paying off my husband’s Masters. My mom’s constant berating is making me second guess my decision and causing me a lot of stress.  I respect my mom and value her opinion but I need some advice on how to respond to her. Any ideas?

Kelley

Dear Kelley,

The best way to respond to your mother is directly and upfront.  I don’t know a single mother who has made such a major decision lightly. I know you respect and value your mom’s opinion and recognize it’s coming from a place of maternal experience, but at the same time you deserve to be respected as a grown woman, a wife, and now a mother.  Your mother must appreciate and recognize your decision is based on what you feel is beneficial to your family. The decision to return to work after the birth of your son was not flippantly made on the fly, I am sure. Express to her all the effort and planning that went into your decision. Let her know how much thought and prayer went into this decision and ask her to respect that.

Tell her plainly how toxic her comments are and that they are affecting your health. Perhaps she is unaware of how deeply and adversely she is hurting you.

Lastly, earnestly ask her why she feels the way she does. Often times people lash out when they feel slighted or threatened and end up projecting those feelings negatively on others. You can assure her that you value her thoughts and think she was a wonderful mother but that you’ve just decided to do things differently and that decision is not a reflection on how she parented you.

You must stress that the negative comments have to stop immediately because you need her encouragement and positive guidance to navigate this new chapter in your life. Tell her how much you need that guidance on the other things that will come up, despite you two not agreeing on this one thing right now.

My last bit of advice is to you directly, be open to the idea that there may come a time when you decide to change your mind. Don’t stubbornly cling to your decision because you feel like you have something to prove to your mom.  Continue to do what is best for your family and if you have any doubts about your decision discuss them with your husband, not your mother. He is your partner in this.

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