The Worst Thing You Can Say to a Working Mom

“I would never let someone else raise my children.”

If you’re a working mom, you’ve probably heard this sentence. Maybe you saw it in a Facebook post. Maybe you overheard someone saying it. Worst of all, maybe someone said it to your face.

I’m over two years into working motherhood. I’ve heard and read a lot of things about it – by working moms, by stay at home moms, by non-parents. I’ve heard both great things and awful things. But that sentence? That is one of the worst, and I’m not sure people who say it always understand how hurtful it can be.

Daycare and Raising Children

Being a working parent is often a choice, but many times it’s not. Chris and I live and work outside DC, which has one of the highest costs of living in the country. For most parents here, it just isn’t possible to live on one income, and often being a working mom isn’t a choice, it is a necessity. Now, I’ve said before that I know I’m meant to be a working mom and would likely work regardless of our situation. It’s just who I am, and I’m a better mom for it. Being a working mom helps me in raising my daughter, and that’s why it hurts so much when people use that sentence.

There are lots of ways to define parenting, but I think we can all agree on a few things. A good parent loves their child. A good parent provides for their child. A good parent provides guidance and nurtures their child. A good parent disciplines their child. A good parent teaches their child. A good parent fosters independence in their child.

Don’t I do all of those things?

Yes, from about 8 – 5:30, Monday through Friday, Abbie is at daycare. It’s about 9.5 hours a day (and for two of those, she’s napping). Yes, someone else is caring for her, giving her meals, entertaining her – but she’s not raising her. Chris and I are.

When we were choosing where Abbie would spend her days away from us, we were fortunate to find a daycare provider that has become an extension of us. She enforces our rules, gives her love and encouragement, and lets us know what’s going on during the day. Eventually, Abbie is going to go to school. Would you ever say that school is raising your children? No, and this is the same. With school, you are providing your child the opportunity to learn, and in doing so, being their parent. By choosing Abbie’s daycare provider, we are parenting her, providing her the opportunity to learn from other children, fostering her independence from us, and learning about different cultures, among many other things. THAT is raising her. Is that for everyone? Of course not, but it’s just different, as is every parenting choice.

Because what people forget in all of this is not only are we her parents, but that we choose who we leave our daughter with during the day. We choose what to send for her lunch. We choose what to dress her in every morning. We talk to her provider about her day. We advise her of any issues or things going on. Most importantly, we make the decisions, just as we’ve made the decision for us to both continue working. It’s a personal and economic decision for my family, but it also allows me to set an example for my daughter – that there are all different kinds of parents, and that she can have both a career and a family, if that’s what she wants. Being a good example for her is the best parenting we can do.

Daycare isn’t raising our daughter. We are.

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18 Comments

  1. April 22, 2015 / 9:20 am

    I want to stand up on my chair and give you a slow clap. Well said! I’m not a mom yet, but I know when I am, I will go back to work full-time. It would be tight to swing it on one income, but to be honest, I want to work. I also think it’s good for kids to be cared for by other people sometimes, away from the home — it helps with independence, relationship building, and other social skills. I’m sure either choice is hard and has its trade-offs, and I’m so glad you found what is best for your family. Way to go!
    Brittany Bergman recently posted…We Are Worth CelebratingMy Profile

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 12:22 pm

      It is really hard, and really personal, which is why it hurts so much to hear that sentence. Thanks for the clap 🙂

  2. April 22, 2015 / 11:31 am

    You will always have the “Mom Guilt” no matter if you work or stay home. I have done both. There are positives and negatives that come along with either. You just to keep your head high and do what is best for you and your family. Your kids will love you and think you are fabulous no matter what.
    Pamela @ A Little Glitter recently posted…Review: Big Little Lies by Liane MoriartyMy Profile

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 12:25 pm

      So much truth there – we are all just doing our best!

  3. April 22, 2015 / 1:42 pm

    My comment here will be the same as it was on an article about things never to say to a “stay at home mom”. I think a lot of people make random comments from one school of thought to the other without giving much thought to the impact those comments might have on that person. Of course there are always some judgmental people who will want to preach their philosophy as the only “right” way to be. When that happens, I just ignore every syllable; smile and nod. You do what is right for you and your family. That’s all there is to it.

    • April 22, 2015 / 9:50 pm

      I totally agree with this comment. Just ignore them and do what is right for your family. Don’t let it get to you. People can say stupid and hurtful things no matter what the situation. Heck, we don’t do bottles so when I go into the office (like twice a month, if that) Will brings her by my office so she can eat. I’ve gotten plenty of “opinions” on that, but it’s our situation and it’s what works best for us. I’ve really adopted the mentality of “IDGAF about your opinion” since becoming a mom =P

      • Jess
        April 30, 2015 / 12:33 pm

        Haha, I know you have… I need to be more like you 🙂

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 12:26 pm

      Yes! I try to ignore it most of the time, but this one for some reason gets to me.

  4. April 22, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    I agree with Kristen ^^, there is no right way to parent, except for what is right for your own family. I have always thought that that’s a bit of a close-minded thing to say, of course you’re raising your child. Just rest-assured that as long as it’s working for your and your family, that’s all that matters.
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    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 12:32 pm

      Thanks <3

  5. April 22, 2015 / 10:45 pm

    I’ve heard from my mama friends that work that it really helps them be a better a mom and take advantage of the times they can spend with their kid in the best ways. So that is wonderful! And, this is very well written! Love it. You go mama!
    Courtney recently posted…7 Simple Earth Day Ideas for ToddlersMy Profile

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 1:02 pm

      Thank you!

  6. April 22, 2015 / 11:38 pm

    Visiting from The Blogger Life

    I am a first time mom of a 9.5 month old boy. I taught two year full-time before I had my son. Now I teach part-time, 11-4. We have been absolutely blessed to have good mommy friends take care of our son this school year, people we know and trust and have raised/are raising their own children well.

    As for your comparison to letting teachers raise your children, I sadly believe that is what many parents are having happen these days! It’s a little annoying as a teacher to also have to teach life skills, behavior, manner, etc. when I should be teaching reading and writing.
    Tayler Morrell recently posted…Having Favorites in Your ClassroomMy Profile

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 1:03 pm

      Oh, I didn’t even think of that with teachers, but sadly, I think you’re right. It shouldn’t be that way, and it isn’t right you have to deal with that!

  7. April 23, 2015 / 12:42 am

    sometimes people say the most insensitive things. i’m not a mom so I don’t really know, but I do know people should think before they speak.
    Aubrey recently posted…what’s up wednesdayMy Profile

    • Jess
      April 30, 2015 / 12:34 pm

      Always a good suggestion.

  8. May 10, 2015 / 3:54 pm

    THIS. I will have to go to work right away after having my daughter in July, and I’m not thrilled about it. However, we live in Anchorage and the cost of living is EXTREMELY high. We would not be able to afford a basic one-bedroom apartment on only one income, let alone amenities and food. It’s not a choice, and just because we’re having to let someone else watch her during the day doesn’t mean someone else is RAISING her. Thank you for this post! It honestly made me feel so much better!
    Allie recently posted…Reagan + TaylorMy Profile

    • Jess
      May 19, 2015 / 3:53 pm

      Oh gosh, I’m so glad it did! Working motherhood is NOT easy, but for so many of us, it’s necessary. Best of luck with your soon to arrive little one, and feel free to reach out if you need to vent about working motherhood!