Note to parents: The way we talk about working or stay-at-home motherhood today significantly affects the views our children will have about the topic as adults. The amazing news there is that we have the power to eliminate working-mom guilt from our daughters’ generation—so suggests a new study published in Human Relations.
According to Lupu and her colleagues, the women who feel the best about working motherhood are the ones whose own mothers helped instill strong career aspirations—regardless of whether those mothers worked or stayed home.
As one participant explained, “I do remember my mother always regretting she didn’t have a job outside the home and that was something that influenced me and all my sisters.” On the other hand, working moms who regularly expressed regret made their children more likely to view working in a negative light.
Instead, it’s best to focus on the positive aspects for working and how it serves the family.
So, how can you do that? Try out these conversational swaps..
Instead of: “I’m so sorry I can’t pick you up from school. I was at the office.” Try: “I’m so thankful so-and-so was able to give you a ride from school. I was working on this exciting project at the office and wanted to wrap it up so I could tell you about it!”
Instead of: “I don’t have time to bake cookies for your class.” Try: “Everybody’s family is different, so everyone has different snacks. Some parents make cookies, and but we buy class snacks at the store. You can pick some out.”
Instead of: “Mommy has to be at work by 8 a.m., so you have to go to the before school program.” Try: “You’re going to start at a cool new program in the morning where you get to learn and have breakfast with other kids, and I’m going to have breakfast meetings with my friends at work.”
Instead of: “I have to work this weekend... I’m so sorry.” Try: “You’re going to have a special weekend with Dad and I’m going to be at work because there’s a really cool, important project that I’m working on.”
The bottom line is this: We have the ability to shape our children's views on working motherhood—and if we spare ourselves all the “mom guilt” we can spare them, too.