Let’s Debate: Should your kids decide whether or not you have a day job?

Kozzi-mother-working-with-sons-on-homework-project-442 X 294When I saw the cover of last month’s Parenting Magazine, I knew what I’d read first. I skipped the baby swaddling how-to in favor of Sasha Emmons’ Essay, “Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Work.” Emmons responds to a question that would make most working parents cringe: Mom, do you love your job more than you love me?

Like Emmons, I don’t love my job more than my kids. But what’s love got to do with it?

Before you put your dukes up, let’s clarify our debate

If you’re a parent, you already have a job, a very important one. Today, I’m not asking whether or not parents should work outside the home. What I want to know is just how much weight your child’s opinion gets when it comes to whether or not you have a job beyond childcare.

Let’s take a quick look at three flavors of working moms.

Stay-at-home mom (SAHM). Generally speaking, SAHMs stay home to care for their children and household. They averages 94 hours of work per week–work that translates to a six-figure income according to Salary.com. But of course we all know this job, with its 24-hour duties and non-existent vacation days, doesn’t come with a paycheck.

For a tasty read, check out Kim Tracy Prince’s post, “The Number One Danger of Being a Stay at Home Mom.”

Work-out-of-the-home mom (WOHM). Working mothers, or WOHMs, primarily work in a traditional office or company setting. WOHMs are now the sole or primary income provider in 40% of households with children, according to the Pew Research Center.

It’s great to bring home the bacon, some of us even fry it up in a pan, but every now and then that working mom guilt rears its ugly head. Check out Working Moms Against Guilt where a few fabulous bloggers are putting mommy guilt in its place.

Work at home mom (WAHM). WAHMs bring home the bacon, but they do it from their own kitchen, or home office.

If you’re interested in becoming a WAHM, I highly recommend the Work-At-Home Mom Strategy Hour offered by 5 Minutes for Mom. Bonus, if you’re an aspiring WAHM and you’re also interested in freelance writing, visit Carol Tice’s Make a Living Writing blog.

A child’s opinion always counts…except for when it doesn’t

So, just how much influence should a child have when it comes to whether or not a parent has a day job? In my opinion, a child’s opinion on this has some sway, but not a ton. Most kids can’t fully appreciate the cost of food and shelter, healthcare, clothing…neither can some alleged adults.

Kids don’t understand your long-term goals for your family, such as saving for college and retirement…neither can some alleged adults.

But it’s more than finances, isn’t it?

In the essay mentioned above, Emmons shares with her 8-year-old daughter the reasons that she works that have nothing to do with money. Like Emmons, I like to be creative and problem solve, both inside and outside of the home. I want my children to be proud of me. I want them to know that a woman’s work is meaningful, no matter the locale.

Readers: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much influence does your child’s opinion have on whether or not you have a day job? What would you do if your child asked you not to work outside the home?

Play nice: around here all opinions are respected, encouraged, and appreciated.

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About Nicole Robinson

Nicole Robinson is a Dallas-based freelance writer who specializes in college planning, parenting, women’s lifestyle, education, and self-help. But she's always hungry to munch on new topics. In addition to writing for The BookWormMama blog, Nicole provides content, copywriting and proofreading services for various publications.


Let’s Debate: Should your kids decide whether or not you have a day job? — 19 Comments

  1. Hey, Nicole. Great question! For me, the answer is simple- 0 because my private educational loans aren’t going to pay for themselves. However, if our financial situation were a little different, I would say a 6 or a 7. I don’t think I would want to stop working entirely, but would consider working part-time if my daughter expressed her desire to have me home more.
    Kristi Blust recently posted..But, Aren’t We All Moms? Revisiting the Stay-at-Home/Working Mom ConversationMy Profile

  2. This is not something I actually ever considered. My kids have never voiced an opinion about wanting me to be at home or not. I’m really the only one in our family who has labored over the issue at all. I’ve done both, full-time work in and outside the home, part-time work in and outside the home, and all of those arrangements worked okay for a time, and I could tell when the outside-the-home stuff got to be too much for all of us. I would switch it up and have my husband stay home with the kids more if that is ever possible, too.
    Kim Tracy Prince recently posted..Wordless Wednesday: Back To SchoolMy Profile

  3. I have been very lucky that at times my job has been flexible. Especially since my oldest really needed me more after the twins were born. But I’m going to say that my personal number comes close to a 2 or 3.

    My goals and desires are so much more than monetary and while I would do anything to make my family happy, I feel strongly that being at home with them is not going to make them happier. Instead, fostering my career and preparing financially for their futures, as well as mine in old age, is a better suited use of my time than being at home and going batty with them. I am not SAHM material, I’ve done it in spurts and it’s not for me. I think I know what is best for my family and being at home with them isn’t it. I have so much more energy for them and patience for their antics when I have been away doing something I love for 8 hours – which for me is work.

    However, my number may not be the same number for someone who has the patience and the want to stay at home with their children. This definitely isn’t a one size fits all question. I also love my job which isn’t true for many, so someone who is already dreading the work day may put more weight on their children’s desires.

  4. I’m a WAHM. We need the income and I am lucky enough that I can consult and find work that helps pay the bills. I’m building that business, alongside my blogging business. Because I work from home, I don’t think my kids always see it as work. It’s been a little frustrating at times. I think they see me on the computer and think “mom’s just playing on the computer,” not “mom’s making social media happen for small businesses.” Summer is the hardest.
    Michelle recently posted..Get Your Home and Life Organized! {Let’s Get Organized Link Party}My Profile

  5. My kids are both under age 3 and have no concept of the SAHM/WAHM/WOHM debate. I think ultimately for me they would play a big role in the decision though. I worked part time when my first baby was very young and I cried on the way to work more often than not. Right now I am a semi-WAHM and hope to be able to increase the income I bring to the family – but the kids don’t understand that I have work to do, and typically I have to schedule windows of time for someone to watch them if I want to make serious progress on my to-do list. If I have help in my home (hubby, my mom, etc), they don’t take my job very seriously and it easily becomes frustrating for all of us. :\ I’m striving to find a balance that keeps us all happy!
    Julie recently posted..Baby Girl Fashion Round Up: Fall 2013My Profile

  6. I was a SAHM for 20 years while raising my kids. Not having a career was a choice I made with my husband that worked for our family. However, I don’t think children should ever be able to weigh in on adult decisions, especially because they really don’t understand the large-scale ramifications of those tough choices. You need to do what works for your family – you are the parent – and your children will be fine.
    Sharon Greenthal recently posted..The Empty Nest: 25 Things I’m Glad I’ll Never Have to Do Again- Back to School EditionMy Profile

  7. I don’t have kids yet, but I grew up with a mother who worked full time as a doctor (and father worked full time as a doctor). Maybe I am lucky but I felt like my parents were there for more events/family time then people who’s parents don’t work.

    I will work even when I have kids because having two parents who worked full time really instilled values in me that I truly treasure.

    But I agree that you have to do what works for YOUR personal (family) situation!

    AJ | TheAJMinute
    AJ recently posted..MOO.comMy Profile

  8. I’m gonna have to go with 1. My kids’ opinions are just not relevant when it comes to my job and paycheck.

    Now my kids’ NEEDS? That’s a whole ‘nother issue. If my kids needed me to not work — let’s say because of physical or other special needs — I would sacrifice accordingly.

    I love my job and my paycheck supports my family. So if they’re sad that they don’t get to spend the day with me (which, 99% of the time, they’re totally fine with it) or wish I were a SAHM like Sally’s mom, too bad. I do my best to help them understand why I work, and how it affects them for the positive. They pretty much seem to get it.

    Great post!
    Susan Wenner Jackson recently posted..Halloween Costumes for Kids (That Are Just Plain Wrong)My Profile

  9. What a great question!

    I think it depends on the financial situation. Years ago, I had to work outside the home with no option to stay home. We have been fortunate in that back then my husband was working at home so we didn’t have to put our son in child care, but I know he would have preferred me home. Now that our financial situation is better can give more weight to my children’s opinions.
    So Very Domestic recently posted..3rd Grade This YearMy Profile

  10. Pingback: Review: The Parent Backpack for Kindergarten through Grade 5 by ML Nichols | BookWormMama.com

  11. I have never really thought of my girls being INVOLVED in the decision for me to work from home. I am not a good employee – I cant STAND being told what to do – so I knew I was going to have to own my own business to be happy. When my girls came along, it was just a bonus that I was home with them – but I did not quit working outside of my home in order to stay home with them. Its just kinda how it happened. :)
    Lynsey @MoscatoMom recently posted..Seafood Festival 5k – Blowing My Own Mind – BOLD Goal #8My Profile

  12. I think if you HAVE to work, you just need to be honest and open with your children, why you are working. And, if you are working out of the home because you just want to… well, not sure how I feel about it, but maybe your children should have a say. :)

  13. I’m a stay-at-home working mom because I don’t want to be away from my kids. My kids have made it clear they don’t want me to leave the home either. They love having me homeschool them, and it matters a great deal to them.

    My kids opinion makes a huge difference in my desire to return to the work force outside of the home. My kids have done everything in their power to help ensure I’m able to “work from home.” They would much rather see me working in the home than go to an actual “out of the home job like Daddy does.”
    Crystal Green recently posted..Sounds Taken For GrantedMy Profile

  14. My kids don’t influence my decisions, but my decision to have kids influenced it. I’ve known since high school that I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I do WAH, too, with my blog and they don’t understand why I have to spend time on my computer but I explain to them that without this work they wouldn’t get to do fun things.
    Paula @ Frosted Fingers recently posted..Slow Cooker Shredded BBQ Chicken RecipeMy Profile

  15. My daughter has all the influence about where I work (out of the home full time, own a small business and blog). I need to work so we can afford to send her to university on day and pay off my school debt.

    That being said I still make these decision. My daughter could not say – don’t work. She influences my decisions just doesn’t make them
    Katrina recently posted..How to Teach Your Child the AlphabetMy Profile

  16. Me staying home is something my husband and I discussed before we even had kids. His mom was home with him and his brother so it was just as important to him- as it was me. I LOVE being home with my 2 children. I volunteer at school and am lucky enough to be class mom. I get to surprise my little girl with special out to lunches and be home with them when they don’t feel well. My little guy just started pre-k so his hours are limited. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen for my blog and also because feeding them healthily is super important to me. If I worked out of the home, i would never be able to do this.
    Tara @ secretsofamomaholic.com recently posted..Ghost Toast & Three Little Ghosties- Books to Belly Halloween Edition!My Profile

  17. I LOVE this. Oh my gosh! Personally I’ve been a SAHM since I had my son, and I’m currently transitioning to a WAHM, but I believe that if I was a work OUT of the home mom, I would put my little guy’s needs over anything else. So unless we needed my income to survive (groceries, bills, rent) then I wouldn’t continue to work out of the home. What’s the point of doing something for your kids, when all it does is take you away from them?
    Just my two cents!
    xx Caitlin
    Caitlin recently posted..Organize Your Life with ATBMy Profile

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