When I first became a stay at home mom, I did a lot of reading about what the transition may be like. While reading, I discovered there were plenty of stay at home mom stereotypes that were easily and often debunked. For example, not all stay at home moms are trouncing around Target sipping Starbucks all day, and not all stay at home moms are feeling happy and fulfilled 100 percent of the time while spending all day in their perfectly-cleaned home eating perfectly-healthy meals. Obviously. That said, there are some other misconceptions about stay at home moms that I have come to discover by talking to other people, reading, analyzing my own preconceived notions and becoming a stay at home mom myself.
- All stay at home moms have spouses who make a ton of money. Since staying home, I’ve heard more often than once, “you’re so lucky; I wish I could do that,” from mothers whose spouses, I assumed, made good money. And upon hearing that, I’d wonder, “have you ever done the math to see if it would work?” I feel like the misconception is that any mom who stays home with their child is doing so because it is easy financially. And, for some, surely it is. However, some moms (and dads for that matter) elect to stay home because they want to, for whatever reason. The reason doesn’t always have to be financially-driven. For some, the finances work themselves out easily, and some families have to sacrifice and budget to make having a parent at home work for them.
- Stay at home moms don’t need help. Stay at home moms do a lot single-handedly. In many households, it includes doing the majority or all of the cooking, cleaning, child entertainment and child shuttling. Sometimes, wizardly moms even make it look easy. But, let’s be real, it is not always or even usually easy. Stay at home moms may be able to handle a ton, but they, too, could use help. So, don’t assume they’re available to help you at the drop of a hat. And don’t assume they wouldn’t take an extra hand if it were offered.
- Stay at home moms have smarter kids. This is not that common of a stereotype, but things people have said to me (and conversations I’ve overheard) led me to believe that it is an underlying assumption of some. Many (though not all) stay at home parents are able to offer a significant amount of one-on-one time to their children. It seems this can sometimes lead to children learning things earlier than some of their peers in daycare/other childcare environments. The assumption that kids of stay at home parents are smarter (or faster to learn), however, can have a negative impact for both working moms and stay at home moms. For stay at home moms whose kids aren’t thriving in all areas, they may feel like they’re not doing a good enough job at a job that is a gigantic chunk of their overall life. For working moms whose kids aren’t thriving in all areas, they may feel guilt for not being able to spend more one-on-one time with their children working on education.
Having assumptions about another person is not always a bad thing, like: you have a great job; I assume you’re smart! But, assumptions can be a dangerous thing because they can close you off to the opportunity to get to know a person or situation for what she/he or it truly is. When it comes to stay at home parents, working parents, non-parents – anyone, really – there are an incredible number of assumptions out there. I say, try your best not to let stereotypes guide your beliefs about someone, but give yourself a little grace when trying to break the habit.