Top 5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a Transitioning Parent

It’s been a little over a year since I made the transition to stay-at-home mom. As if tabling 15 years of marketing experience and a master’s degree wasn’t terrifying enough, then came the comments. Friends, family and people at Giant Eagle had a lot to say. Despite their intentions, here are some common quotes and misconceptions that can be more harmful than helpful to a transitioning parent.

  1. “You’re making the right choice.”

I still question my decision, daily. Two weeks after moving into our new home my son fell down the stairs. I was seven months pregnant with our third baby and it took me an hour to get home from work. That night as I was organizing the pantry my husband poked his head in to say, “how much longer do you want to do this?” And by “this” he meant my job. He travels and wins the bread. I’m a copywriter and can work from home. So naturally, it made sense for me to change course. We didn’t have a heartfelt, pros and cons discussion. We pulled the trigger to see if this would work and are still ebbing and flowing with the process.

  1. “It’s not like you need the money.”

Congratulations! When did you pass your Series 7? For the record, money is just one of several factors parents consider when thinking about staying home. People have different investments, priorities and wants that are a constant stress no matter the size of their house or salary of their partner. Diapers or new sandals from Nordstrom? Every single purchase is a weighted decision. Eight times out of ten I feel guilty buying something for myself.

  1. “I could never stay home.”

Um, thanks? This is probably the most popular and detrimental response, even if you try to keep the conversation going. I follow this with a simple ‘why?’ and am told either a) we can’t live on one salary or b) I’m a better mom when I work. Neither answer is constructive for a transitioning parent or the friendship.

  1. “You’re going to have so much fun!”

Right. My kids are four, three and ten months. Someone is always crying, sick or fighting. I’m lucky if I can convince them to put on pants and go to the library. Sure, we go to ballet, swimming, soccer—but contrary to the grinning Instragram pictures, it’s not all swing sets and finger-painting.

  1. “They’re going to love having you home.”

My older two ask about every other week if I can go back to work so ‘daddy can stay home.’ Not only have I put my career on hold, it feels as if my new “bosses” don’t value my role. I realize if our roles were reversed they’d want me to stay home instead (maybe) however, it’s a tough pill to swallow every time it shoots out of their tiny mouths.

kidsBeing a SAHM or dad IS rewarding. But that’s not what this article is about. The transition is both exciting and completely terrifying—and still is every day. It should be treated with the same consideration, candor and support as any new job. What are some of your favorite quotes or misconceptions that you deal with while staying at home with the littles?


About author View all posts Author website


(Non) Stay-at-home mama raising my three screaming cubs while restoring our 35-acres of wilderness just outside of Cleveland. Copywriter, sheep herder and fixer upper. I live in muck boots, jeans and wear dangling toddlers as accessories.

11 CommentsLeave a comment

  • What an honest article exploring the challenges in transitioning from work-outside-the-home mom to stay-at-home-mom. No matter what decisions moms make, the internal battles in trying to figure it all out are often fueled by people who usually mean well but don’t know the impact of their words. It all comes down to what works for the family. And moms should just support other moms! It’s all hard!

  • Great post! Love it!! So much has changed for me since I saw you last summer. Can’t wait to visit again and update you! This blog post reminded me to mention it. The “I could never stay at home” one always gets under my skin. Love the bio too! If it’s any consolation, Gretchen always gets upset and begs me not to go back to work and get a job. LOL!

  • I think I have said these things to you before. OOPS. So let me leave you with this — I have no clue if you made the right decision, if your kids will love having you home or that you will have a lot of fun — but what I do know is you are wonderful and I know you will figure it out and find your own path.

  • I enjoyed this…I wish there were another way to describe a “Stay at Home Mom”. That term implies somehow that we aren’t going anywhere or moving from our couch which anyone who has served in this role knows is not the case. If you think of a better job description I would love to hear it! I worked in “Corporate America” for 8 years pre-kids, then “stayed at home” (ha!) with my two kids, then worked part-time from home, and now work part-time outside the home and am at home (again, rarely home) part-time. Guess what? All of these scenarios were (and are) freakin’ hard sometimes, in completely different ways. And I will never forget how some people made me feel about these various choices. Yet, somehow it all seemed to work out. My oldest is entering high school next year and I’m still wondering what the heck I’m doing with my life sometimes! I am not sure if we ever really stop “transitioning”. Good luck “at home”! 🙂

    • Yes, yes, yes!!! Thank you for reading and sharing. I’m a part-time copywriter and for the life of me I can NOT come up with a new name for stay-at-home moms. Still working on that one!

      • This is a great post. I don’t have kids yet, but am already worrying about all of these things. I don’t know how you moms do it–handle kids and LIFE. Adulting is hard work.

        I, too, am in the communications industry and struggle to find out where the heck people find part-time communications and copywriting jobs. Thoughts?

        Also hate the stay-at-home-mom term. I’d like to one day respond to people when they ask “What do you do?” with “well, right now I’m working on being a human being with many varied activities and interests,” or “mom and human.”

        Also I’m down with Julianne’s thoughts about always tranisitioning and wondering what the heck I’m doing with life. I think for some people who think and self-reflect that might just be a lifelong process.

        Thanks for all your thoughts.

        • Ahhh…the part-time gig. It’s more like the middle of the night/quick type some words everyone’s sleeping/help me feel normal again job. My retail, b2b, and ‘can you help write a new website for a small organic pesticide spray company’ freelance projects have all come from bugging people I’ve worked for or with in the past. I’ve found they typically have back-burner stuff that they’d love to crank out and since you are freelance they don’t have overhead with taking you on. To them you are an extra set of hands versus another body to manage. I share my blog posts and other posts, and sign up for their newsletter and social sites. When they announce a new project or client I give them a congratulatory/I’m here if you need me shout out.

  • How about Home Manager? I have never been a SAHM but cried something terrible during my third trimester that I couldn’t be. I was back at office 2 weeks after giving birth despite the fact it was horrible, nearly died, and ended up in ICU. BUT I brought my daughter to work everyday until she was almost 3 years old and it was wonderful although challenging and lost me some employees and patients. I don’t regret it at all and feel I was very lucky to have the best of both worlds. Now I only regret I couldn’t home school but really she’s probably better off at Montessori anyway so we do what we have to do and thankfully it works out.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *