Working Mom Etiquette

How should I deal with people who judge me for working while my husband cares for our baby?


No matter how many successful working women have proved that you can be a devoted mother while also being your family's primary breadwinner, there will always be someone who will question whether a new mom went back to work because she had to—that her husband must have lost his job, or this tragic circumstance wouldn't have transpired.

But hey, I've also heard from plenty of stay-at-home moms who feel judged for swapping their power suits for diaper bags, so the situation seems ripe for controversy no matter who ends up staying home to care for the bub.

Finding the perfect balance between work and parenthood should be a private process, but because it involves so many other hot-button issues (day care, breastfeeding, the role of dads, the value of moms), it's considered a fair-game topic for unwelcome public scrutiny.

The best thing for you to do is own your decision. Don't apologize and don't be defensive; just stand proud knowing you weighed all the options and came up with the best plan for your family.

Maybe your job has better benefits or more room for advancement. Maybe your husband was getting burned out and welcomed the chance to spend time with his baby (why should that choice only be left to moms?). Maybe, like the relatable mom Christina Applegate plays on the TV show Up All Night, you absolutely love your job and know you would go stir-crazy staying home one minute longer than your maternity leave.

There are a million different reasons why your family might opt for the Mr. Mom scenario, and it's no one's business but yours. So if someone tilts her head, bites her lip disapprovingly and waits for you to launch into an apology or a manifesto, all you have to do is smile and say, "We're both so grateful that we were able to come up with an arrangement that works for us."

More about working moms

Deputy Editor Jenn Carofano shares her perspective:

Off To Work We Go

A new mom's personal insight on going back to work

Making It Work For Moms

What makes a company a good fit for moms on the job?

Busy Isn't Always Best

As a working mom, you've got a lot to do. Maybe it's time to take a break?

The Power Of Choice You've got unlimited ways to be a parent. Pick what works for you.