One of the most baffling truths that I’ve had to deal with upon returning to work after having my first child is that even other women question the choice of becoming a working mother. It didn’t even matter that some of them had kids of their own, too; they still asked me why I decided to come back to work when I had a tiny, lovable baby waiting for me at home. Back then, I found the questions offensive. We’re all women of the world! Shouldn’t they be supporting my decision to be a working mother?
Now, after years of working as an employee and then as a freelancer while raising rowdy children, I think I’ve come to terms with the idea that such questions will continue to exist for a while yet. The trick is to handle those questions with grace, dignity, and good humor while, at the same time, helping people understand that the situation is yours to manage – not theirs.
So how do you do that? Here are a few suggestions for answering common working mom questions.
Assume that every question is asked out of curiosity
Most of the time, people because they really are curious – different women, after all, have different circumstances that influence their choice to become working moms and their approaches to managing work with motherhood. Chances are good that fellow ask this question because they want to have jumping off points for conversation with you. For the childless ladies, it can be an insight into a future they may want to have. For the fellow mothers, it’s a means of finding common ground. When you do this, you can answer such questions without feeling offended.
Be as tactful as you can – even if the questions aren’t tactful
It’s easy to think that questions like “Why become a working mom?” are honestly borne out of curiosity. They’re much easier to answer too – responses to these and other similar inquiries are straightforward. But questions like “What about the kids?” and “Doesn’t that affect your work?” can be really complicated, because everyone has an opinion about how children should be raised. The best way to handle emotionally charged queries like this is to make it clear that being a working mother actually works out for you and your kids – they learn independence, and you have the motivation to work efficiently.
Share concrete solutions for perceived issues
Some people are simply overwhelmed by the idea of balancing commitment to work and commitment to supportive parenthood. This is why the question of how you can do your work when you have so many things on your calendar often comes up. In cases like this, it’s best that you share your organizational secrets – who knows? It may be useful to them too! For example, I often point out that my smartphone, my Google Drive account, and my subscription to the VoIP phone service RingCentral make it possible for me to get some work done while looking after my sick boys.
Think about your kids
When you feel like the other tactics aren’t working, go for the big guns – think about your kids. How would you want them to handle these kinds of questions? Sometimes, remembering that you’re a mother to the next generation helps a lot in making you a better person. Knowing that someone is following your example can help you manage situations in a way that would, hopefully, change in the future. In handling painful questions with aplomb, for your children’s sake, you refuse other people the license to question future generations of working mothers. Isn’t that something to aspire to?
About Author: Nancy Perkins is a mother by day and freelance writer by night. Her enthusiasm with technology and business has led her to write for Business2Community, SocialMediaToday and others. She loves to share almost anything new.
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