I'm a stay-at-home mom to two sons, one with autism. Staying at home has certainly hurt us financially, but it was the right choice. I had been a kindergarten teacher and couldn't imagine being with kids all day long only to go pick up mine at daycare. My sisters-in-law are career women with good paying jobs. They're so rude to me about being a stay-at-home mom. I largely avoid them. But what's the best way to handle people like this? I'm very open-minded and tolerant of others so I can't understand their disdain for me. Why are people so threatened by those who make different choices?
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Oh, I do love that response, Dennis. You're so right about being defined by our career paths. My sisters-in-law don't know what to do with me since I don't currently have a job. When I taught kindergarten, though, so many people talked down to me!
Strange huh, when 0-7 are the most important years. Shows the understanding we have as a society w.r.t. shaping persons of good character.
Paula, you're the best. Can I carry you around in my pocket and have you give me affirming messages?! Thanks so much. It was a LONG weekend with the sister-in-law but now she's gone.
I have a feeling that you're quite capable of giving your own self-affirming messages & remaining positive. To hell with what someone else says or thinks....this is strictly your life....not theirs. Good luck!
You've been through a lot, Kylyssa, and I appreciate you sharing it with me. The hardest part of having a son with autism is the disappointment I felt in my family for not being supportive. My son is doing so well now but that hurt still remains.
I share because I don't want other people like you and your son to go through similar unnecessary BS or in the hopes it may help them handle it when they do. I wish someone had told me it's OK to distance yourself from toxic relatives sooner.
TW...This mother is not obligated to EXPLAIN a damned thing to anyone about her personal decisions. She needn't use the "doctor" excuse or explanation. Her life & choices are the business of No One else! She can ignore them!
Paula, we agree on so many things . . .
Au fait....I know. I've taken note of this fact more & more as we roll merrily along here at HP. I notice several people here & there who seem 2 think similarly. Often I read a comment & it's precisely what I may have said! Know what U me
I agree Paula, bravo that would have been my choice also, but my children needed a roof over their heads and food in their tummies.
I don't know if anyone criticized me, and only I supported 2 my kids, so my choice alone.
Well Shy....IF anyone did criticize U 4 doing what U had 2 do, I think U could have told them as soon as they pay all UR bills, U'll stay home!!
Thanks, Ronnie. You really call it as you see it!
You get the courage award as well as the reward for speaking up about doing the right thing!
Thanks, Natalie. You're an example of how someone's life choices really tell so much about their character. I hope people see that with my choices, too. But, as so many people have written, it matters what I think, not others.
Nancy, you & parents like you are raising tomorrows citizens who will shape our world. What could be a more important career than that? And you can't ever leave your work at the office. I have such respect for you & hope others get it soon!
Thanks Irfan. Right now I'm just doubting my life choices so I need to get stronger to defend them. Deep down I know I've made the right decisions for me and my family, but it's hard when everyone around us has the material goodies and we don't.
It is a tough spot to be in when you look at it that way (they have, we don't). The thirst for material things can never be quenched and it grows with time. I know its hard and you may lose connections, but its OK. [sorry not enough space here] ...
Don't doubt. Irfan is right. Keep what is true to you. Your values and what would truly satisfy you influenced your choice. Trying to please others or being double minded will make you unhappy and undermine your success in the path you have chosen.
Thanks for your honest response, Glenis. I know that would have been true for me, too, if I had returned to work as a kindergarten teacher. I would have been exhausted, frazzled, and stressed-out.
You are so right, Deborah, about people being intolerant of differences. Having a son with autism has certainly shown me that! People would give me such judgmental looks when my son was little and would flap his arms (self-stimulation).
Wow, thanks writer villa. How can I feel down with your inspiring message? You're right. I just need to feel happy with the choices I made and move forward. They're jerks and nothing will change that.
Bravo, mactavers. I have no idea why some people are so threatened when people make choices different than theirs. But ignoring their opinions works for me!
Thanks, Abhimanyu gaur, for this fresh perspective. This situation does make me think about family and what it means. Having a child with autism and getting no support from our families has also made me question.
Thank you. That's good advice and I appreciate it.
Thanks Handicapped Chef. Yes, having a son with autism, has made me even more protective of my family. When you're engulfed in a career like teaching, it's difficult to find a balance between work and home. It's a job that's always in your head.
Thanks, John. You have a great attitude. You're right about shutting doors. Sometimes you have to shut some so others can open. That's what I'm working on doing now!
Thanks so much, Shyron. I hope people understand, too, that our choices are sometimes limited. When my son was diagnosed with autism, he needed speech and occupational therapies three times a week. Then I needed to follow-through with that at home.
@Nancy And don't forget that someone else would have to be paid to take him to all the extra appointments that come with autism, doctor appointments as well as therapy. You should write a hub about childcare costs for a child with autism!
Yes, that's true. You don't make a fortune as a teacher. You have to consider the cost of day care, gas for the commute, and wardrobe for work. Plus, most teachers spend a lot of their own money on supplies and teacher workshops.
And that's not even taking into consideration that daycare for an autistic child costs much, much more than standard daycare.
Thanks, John. These women will always be a part of my life in some capacity, but I'm definitely minimizing contact. I've received so many thoughtful, supportive comments here, and I'm feeling stronger about my life choices.
Thanks, Tessa. Writing for me is always cathartic so that's a great idea. I'll write them a letter that I may or may not send, but I know it will help me.
So true. Plus, there's the illusion out there that you can have it all -- high-powered career, perfect kids, a dreamy marriage, a beautiful home, time for hobbies, a lifestyle blog, 1000+ Facebook friends, and so on.
That's a very kind and generous approach, Stephanie.
Thanks ThreeKeys. I get what you're saying about the unforgiving nature of the working woman culture. i think at the center of this is the hurt I feel about our family never helping us/reaching out to us when our son got diagnosed with autism.
Sorry about that. Some people just don't know how to deal with challenges. It can hurt when it's family or other loved ones that don't give that support. They probably don't know how.
Thanks, Rachael. With all these empowering messages of support, I will never let them mess with my happiness again. I had a lot of hard times when my son was little and now I need to enjoy life.
Thanks, Eliza. I know it was the right choice for me and my family. Having a child with autism puts a lot of extra stress on the family. There's a high divorce rate for couples who have a special needs child.
Thanks, Sulabha. I know I'm making the same mistake you did -- not carrying myself well. I need to show more confidence in the choices I've made. But, limiting my time with these people is the best option.
Thanks, Clayton. As a stay-at-home dad, you probably took some crap, too, but never regret that special time with your kids. Everyone's supportive comments make me realize how fortunate I am to have that time with my boys.
Yes and not all kids fit into the mold for day care. Like many children with autism, my son struggled with Sensory Processing Disorder. He was super sensitive to sound, touch, and light. Day care would have been a nightmare for him.
Thanks, Alessio. Saying something to these two women -- even if it's about how they're making me feel -- is indeed useless and a waste of time. I always thought communication was the key but not always.
Oh, I forgot to answer your question! Your sisters-in-law resent you is because they want to defend their reason for working. They have put money first. Kids need time with parents more than money. Everything money can buy will be forgotten.
Thanks, Lori, for the compassionate response. I admire you for making a beautiful life for your children.
Well said. A few people have brought up the jealousy angle and, I must say, I never considered that. Having a son with autism has often been challenging and heartbreaking. However, if someone just looks at the surface, they may think my life is easy.
Never let them forget that parenting is work. Hard work. Being home all day with kids is way harder than going to work. I could not do it. They are the ones that have it easy.
Thanks, Billie. I think a casual and cheery "to each his own" is the ideal response. I will try to keep that phrase handy. I'm like you with the Prius guy. It's easy to be left speechless when someone is that shockingly (and needlessly) rude.
You're never too old to get tucked in by someone you love.
You're certainly correct, Ro. I am feeling insecure about my life choices and need to own them. My question and everyone's thoughtful responses got me to realize that I need to make some changes and get stronger.
You're right. I need to own it. Our choices make us who we are. Staying at home with my autistic son affects me every day, making me a better and more compassionate person.
Thanks, Jayley. Dealing with family is hard. Perhaps, our expectations are unrealistic. We want that unconditional love that's rare and, maybe, non-existent. I'll stay bright. Thanks!
Thanks, Ian, for your thoughtful response. I do think communication broke down in the family -- in large part, because my husband and I were unable to articulate what we were experiencing with an autistic child.
Thank you. That makes my day!
Thanks, Gina, for those powerful words. I like your 3 "F's," and they're definitely not doing any of those!
Yes, if you're Chelsea Clinton or Ivanka Trump, going to your high-powered, high-earning jobs is a no-brainer. But, as a kindergarten teacher, I had to weigh the cost of day care, gas, wardrobe plus the tremendous commute time and stress from work.
Thanks, Daniel, for acknowledging the "heroic" effort it takes to care for a child with autism. I'm sure my sisters-in-law have looked at my son's behavior over the years and thought I was a bad parent.
Thanks, Shivvi, for your kind and supportive words. I really appreciate hearing from the child of a stay-at-home mom. I have made a peaceful life for my sons and I 'm proud of that.
Yes. I agree. When you know someone disagrees with your choice, there's little point in discussing it with them (especially when they don't really care about you and your kids).
Thanks, Porshadoxus. That's good advice. The older I get the more important it is to surround myself with positive life-affirming people.
Yes, people will always have their judgments. Even when you're doing the right thing, they'll criticize. I really do need to toughen up!
Yes, we moved from the Bay Area because an urban existence is so expensive -- private schools, commuting, home prices, parking, entertainment. We choose a simpler life, which suits us fine. We definitely have less stress. It's good.
Thanks, Elizabeth, for your kind comments. I appreciate you acknowledging the challenges of having a child with autism. I think that's what I find difficult about my sisters-in-law; they ignore or minimize the unique challenges we've faced.
Thanks for the supportive words, Iavanya. I've received so much more support here than I've ever received from family and it feels great. I am getting stronger.
Thanks, Naser Ebaid. My sons are doing so well, and I need to focus on that. They've always been my priority.
Yes, probably true, frumpleton. It's always easier to spot/solve someone else's problems than one's own. I'm sorry your brother was such a jerk to you. Some people are definitely missing the compassion chip.
JUDGE w/WORD! Titus 2:5 says women are to be "keepers @ home" so she has EVERY RIGHT to tell them what Titus says which they are NOT doing!
Oh, that's definitely good advice, Lovey. One of the most stressful situations for me is being around family members who don't care about my well-being. I'm not alone. That's why there's so much over-indulging during the holidays!
I can relate to your sister. It's hard to find someone to watch an autistic child. Our family never offered to help. It can be very lonely and isolating.
Thanks, Codester. you're right. I need to be okay with the decisions I've made. My son with autism is doing great so all I need to do is look at him and be content. It's probably just a case "of the road not taken," wondering what might have been.
Wow, good for you, Julie! I've had so many positive responses from my question -- if only our families were so supportive!
actually, Helen Pippin, staying at home with your children is the best way they can be taught. since today's society is morally destructive. Money is not the most important thing.
Disagree with above. Maybe it might hurt you but with cost of daycare and transportation costs and everything else it seems that if would still be a financial burden
@Helen Pippin It's hard to think anyone actually believes this. What do you think daycare costs for an autistic child? The remains of a dysfunctional patriarchy keep women's wages down, not parents choosing to care for their own children!
You think children are better off raised by overworked, stessed professional day care workers than by their own flesh and blood parents? Not all day cares are bad, but there's lots of terrible ones. What's best for society? Screwed-up kids?
The only way to a strong society is through the raising of strong, moral and ethical members who treat each other respectfully including the choices they make, Where better to teach these values. Children also learn about relationships from family.
Helen Pippin you are speaking about financial balance between men and women.but ask any child,whom he/she loves,they will say there mother.they will not tell as there father
There is the assumption that women never have another vocation when they stay at home with the kids. My mom stayed at home with me until I was twelve, and she would babysat other kids to make more money. Also, some women own their own home businesses
This mother has a degree in education so I wouldn't call her an untrained person. Society can take a flying leap -- your family is the most important thing. And I don't think anyone else but a child's own parents can be as good as they are
@destructive lifestyle - disagree - its constructive
@women don't get paid as much as men - disagree - my experience says otherwise
@daycare is better - disagree - why have kids in the first place?
@drain on society - disagree - she promotes unity
I feel a kinship with your mom. It really does take so much out of you. My son had a flat affect when he was little and rarely smiled or laughed. That alone was so draining. Thanks for the support.
Thanks, Lilly. Parenting can be a thankless job but, you're right, I see my efforts shine through every day in my kids.
Blessings to you, too, Norine. Thanks for the uplifting message.
Thanks, Carson. Yes, following one's passion is always good advice.
Everyone is really making me think about this. It's like being in therapy. What hurts most is when they talk about their new cars, new appliances, fancy vacations. I need to deal with it because they have every right to talk about that stuff.
Perhaps there's an element of fear involved? After all, they are one child with special health needs away from involuntarily sharing your position as a SAHM and health issues can pop up at any point.
The need to show off fancy new stuff can be the need to protect against something-fear? regret? guilt? shame? Knowing they haven't been focused on what's important? They may have the right to talk about it but not to knowingly hurt you when doing so.
Nancy, some people need "things" to validate their life choices. Well, "things" have a way of breaking down after awhile. Evidently, material things matter more to them than family does. I think they are snobs
Nancy? I had a million dollar home, 3 cars, a vacation home, and could fly at the drop of a hat. Was I happier than you? No. I am now getting ready to leave that world behind me. It no longer means more than happiness.
You're right. I've realized from everyone's responses that it's about me, not them. I need to change some things in my life so I feel stronger in my decisions.
Thanks for the kind words, Joe Kuko. I am trying some new ways to make money and I'm feeling better about myself and my situation.
Thanks for the supportive comments, jtrader. I feel grateful to have had choices and don't regret staying home. My son with autism is doing great, and I know that it's because we simplified our lives and made him and his therapies a priority.