Is being a stay-at-home Mom hurting my kids?

When I was little, my Mom stayed home with me. She had some part time jobs (usually she was self-employed), but everything revolved around her schedule of being my primary caretaker. Even when I went to school, my Mom was home for me at lunch and after school. I guess I thought it was nice? I really can’t remember to be honest. (Sorry, Mom!) My Dad worked long hours in The City (Toronto) and commuted home to us in The Suburbs (Pickering). It was a happy home. It seemed “normal” to me, but it also didn’t seem like something I’d ever want to do myself. I had big dreams!

My Mom was an entrepreneur, always having small businesses to keep herself challenged and bringing in some extra money. She wasn’t a stereotypical stay-at-home mom. She never baked a single cookie for me my entire life, can you even believe that? She did, however, sew me the coolest Halloween costumes ever, so I forgive her for the cookie thing.

I don’t think I ever dreamed of being home with children as an option for me. I wanted to be a writer my whole life, and when I wasn’t accepted into the journalism program at York U, off I went to Trent U to complete an English degree (well, technically, I joint-majored in Sociology, too, in case I ever wanted to be a teacher). I figured maybe I’d teach, or maybe I’d be a professor, or maybe I’d finally write a book, despite not having the right degree, or maybe I’d end up being in business. After I completed my degree, and convocated with   pride and exactly no career options, I worked for a year and went back to school to get a Business degree, because hey, practical.

Straight from there I moved to Toronto where I worked for a small conference development company. Loved the job, hated the company. The pay was fine, but it certainly wasn’t a career, so I had plans to complete an MBA because what else was I supposed to do? Grown-ups have careers! Grown-ups who hold two honours Bachelor’s degrees aren’t really grown-ups, so obviously a Masters in anything would be better than nothing. And I do love to learn.

But life happened, and five years later I was married and expecting our first child. It was then that we decided I’d stay home.

The decision wasn’t made lightly. My husband was in the beginning stages of a very busy career (he was taking actuarial exams every few months) and his income potential was far better than mine, so I became a stay-at-home parent. It was a rough transition, being without nearly $50,000 a year, I can’t lie. And I was overwhelmed with my new job of being someone’s mommy, when I’d had exactly no experience at all with babies or children before. The first year of my daughter’s life was difficult, to say the least.

But honestly, I love this job. I hate the pay, and the hours suck, but I can’t see myself ever working for anyone else ever again. I get huge amounts of joy out of being a stay-at-home mom. I think we all know that being a parent is a challenge even on the good days, so I can’t say that I’m always filled with joy by day’s end, but I really am so happy we were able to make this choice.

During the last seven years, I’ve started a number of successful businesses, I’ve finally been published and feel less awkward calling myself A Writer, and I’ve found that my true happiness isn’t found in a career but in my family and home.

But what does this show my children? Already, my daughter can’t remember me ever having “a real job”, as she puts it. Though I’ve told her many times what my life was like before she arrived, she doesn’t see me as a working parent. Logically, she knows that my “job” is taking care of her and her brother, but I don’t know how my decision to be home with her will impact her choices, you know? She knows I’ve had businesses, of course, but even those have always been set aside to spend time with the kids. They know they come first, not any other job.

I realize that being a stay-at-home parent isn’t an option for everyone. It’s not a desire for many, either. And those are not situations I’m talking about here, because I know exactly nothing about those challenges. I’m not unhappy about my choice to be here with them, and I know the benefits.

But what standard am I setting for my kids? Am I showing my kids that a woman’s place is in the home? Am I not demonstrating for them the value of education? My degrees aren’t even hung on the wall anymore, that’s how little they really mean to me now. Am I teaching them weak work ethic? If I’d spent more time reaching career goals, would I be a stronger role model for them? Is being a stay-at-home parent hurting my kids?

Seems like this is another post that ends with: I don’t know.

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14 thoughts on “Is being a stay-at-home Mom hurting my kids?

  1. In a word, no. You’re teaching both kids there’s more important things than more dollars in the bank. Every choice you make in life will have some kind of impact on your kids, but I don’t think this one will be negative.

  2. I can tell you that there is nothing I valued more than having a Mom to come home to after school. Obviously I didn’t appreciate it when I was younger, but looking back, I am SO grateful for it.

  3. I think as mothers we beat ourselves up about every decision we make – both big and small. There is no perfect formula, and no one size fits all solution.

    You’re not harming them in any way. You are showing them a perfectly reasonable, fulfilling, and meaningful way of life. Other moms, who work outside the home, also show their kids a perfectly reasonable, fulfilling and meaningful way of life. You do what works for your family, and, in the end, a happy mom is the best mom they can have.

    Poor work ethic? You?! Yeah, not even. You are an accomplished and driven entrepreneur. Working for yourself, building your own business, is way harder than going to an established office and working for someone else every day. And your education is being used all the time, whether you see it or not. Hang your degrees back up if you like. Or not. I lost my BA, and never bothered to pick up my masters. But my kids know I worked hard and have two degrees under my belt. When talking about career options with our eldest we were clear about our own educational paths and how they were necessary for us to achieve what success we did.

    Bottom line – you’re doing great.

    1. Thanks, Deb. I guess no matter what path I chose, I’d always question it. I think there’s great value in education for education’s sake, and I hope I pass that along to my kids.

      Thanks for commenting. xox

  4. Oh, I have one other question. How come you named your daughter Story? You gave your son a very common name but your daughter’s name is very unique and different.


  5. Still working on finding that answer myself. I feel like I’ll always be searching. I’m everything I never thought I would be, but so much better than who I thought “she” was, too.

  6. To quote someone else…In a word. No.

    You are – to me – showing them you can have an education and still be a Mom; you don’t have to do one or the other. I gave up my career when I became pregnant with our first because we actually had been doing a long distance relationship for a few years. It was keep my career – which I loved more then I thought life itself – and …. well frankly I don’t know what would have happened. My man had his life he couldn’t pack up and move, and all I had was my non-transferable career. If I had chose my career over moving up to be with him…..I don’t want to think of it.

    I decided to be a Mommy first and maybe, one day, I’ll work at something again, I have my own little craft business I use to keep myself busy, and I worry the exact same thing – what am I teaching my daughters as a SAHM??

    1. It’s such a hard decision, isn’t it? And if we’d chosen working instead of staying home, I’m sure we’d wonder about that, too.


  7. I am in the same boat as you. I left a great career to stay home with my daughter full time. There are days that I know I made a great decision and I will let her know what I did before and it is okay for her to work and be a mom. I am a work at home mom now, in a different career, less hours and less pay but it still is fulfilling.
    Also, you are not teaching them that you are a weak role model, I think it takes a strong woman to be able to leave her career and the extra cash in order to stay home.

    1. I guess, as parents, we never really “know” our choices are the best ones. But I sure hope we’ve done good by them. 🙂

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