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Dear Care and Feeding,
My husband and I both work full time and have two children under 5. My parents strongly disagree with me (a mom) working full time outside of the house. They are both passive-aggressive and full-on aggressive about their disapproval. When they visit and insist on watching the kiddos, they point to normal toddler behavior and dissect it as ways in which my kids are suffering because I—but not my husband, ahem—am not staying home with them.
I don’t question my decision—I love my work and my kids are fine—but my parents stress me out and I don’t know how to make it better.
—A Piece of Work
Ugh, I’m cringing for you. This would drive me OUT OF MY MIND if this were happening to me, so congratulations on the fact that you haven’t stabbed either one of your parents in the neck. (I mean, I hope?)
But this needs to stop. No mother who is parenting kids of these ages while also contending with work needs to have someone dropping snide remarks about how she’s neglecting her children by having a job. You need to have a difficult but firm conversation. You need to tell your parents that while you are happy for their help, you simply will not tolerate any more talk about how it would be better if you stayed at home. You are a grown-ass woman and you have made a grown-ass decision.
The way I see it, they have two options. They can either accept that and, with all due respect, shut up about it, or they can stay out of your house until they’ve come to terms. You do have leverage here—grandparents want to see their grandbabies, for the most part—you just need to use it. You are not only doing this so that they stop negging you, but so that you can establish that your home is your territory and your maternal decisions are made by you. You are an adult; it’s too bad your parents are having a hard time accepting that.