A Stay-At-Home Mom Is Not A Bad Role Model For Her Daughter

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little girl playing with play kitchenHere’s something I’ve never heard asked of a woman: “So, you’re a teacher. Do you think your daughter should grow up to be a teacher, too, then? Don’t you think she needs a role model who isn’t a teacher?”

Or this: “I’m glad that being a software developer is working for you, but what about your daughter? Is becoming a software developer when she grows up the only path you want her to know about?”

Those questions sound strange and narrow-minded, as well they should. I can’t even imagine someone asking a mother who was a doctor or librarian or store manager if she thought her daughters should be required to follow in her footsteps. Yet for some reason there are plenty of people who don’t think anything of asking this rather similar question: “So you’re a stay-at-home mom? Is that what you expect your daughter to be when she’s older too?”

First of all, lines of questioning like these are sad attempts at concern-trolling. “I guess it’s okay if you’re making the best choice for your family’s situation, but haven’t you thought about how acting in your own best interest has irrevocably ruined your daughter’s chances at being an independent woman?” Inherent in any criticism of one person’s decision to stay at home based on how it will affect her daughter’s decision about a career is the suggestion that that daughter will be poorly served by “just” staying at home.

Secondly, if your flavor of feminism takes agency away from young women themselves in order to place all the power on a single decision made by their parents … can you maybe not do that? Choosing to become a stay-at-home parent does not magically flip a switch to remodel the entire destiny of a woman’s daughters. And I really have better things to do as a stay-at-home parent myself than to play the indoctrination videos of me chanting “YOU WILL STAY AT HOME WITH YOUR 2.2 CHILDREN, YOU WILL STAY AT HOME WITH YOUR 2.2 CHILDREN” for my daughter all day long. Besides, she’s one and she doesn’t sit still long enough for the brainwashing to take hold.

Really though, as it turns out, young women, even the ones who are the daughters of stay-at-home mothers, are capable of making decisions for themselves. Being raised by a SAHM does not automatically turn you into an automaton destined for her own future SAHM-ness (an auto-mom-ton?) any more than having a mom who works outside the home guarantees that you will grow up to do the same. (Exhibit A: me.)

I am a mom. I stay at home with my two kids. Maybe my daughter will be a stay-at-home parent herself someday, and maybe she won’t. That’s pretty much up to her. And maybe my son will be a stay-at-home parent, too–but no one ever seems overly concerned about whether his dad’s career path, or even mine, will irrevocably change the kid’s future. I wonder why that is?

(Image: standret / Getty)