Joint Accounts

I Feel Guilty About Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

My husband and I agreed it was the right choice for us, but I worry about being seen as lazy

Kristin Wong
Forge
Published in
4 min readOct 21, 2019

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Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

Dear Joint Accounts,

I’m currently expecting my first child. My husband agreed early in our relationship that he’d be happy to be the breadwinner so that I could step back from my career and stay home full time in our daughter’s early years, which is something I’ve always wanted.

However, as my due date draws closer, I’m feeling increasingly guilty. I think about my husband’s ex-wife, who has never worked and still refuses to get a job, living instead off of my husband’s alimony payments. Even though I do think our situations are different, I worry about being seen the same way I’ve always seen her: lazy and selfish. I also worry that my husband will come to resent me. I don’t want to abandon our plan, but I do want reassurance that I’m making an okay choice, and to assuage this guilt I didn’t expect to feel. Any advice?

Sincerely,

Scared to Stay at Home

LLet’s get one thing straight: There’s nothing lazy or selfish about staying at home to take care of your daughter. Looking after a child is hard work, especially when that child is a newborn.

That said, you’re not the first person to have some guilt about leaving the workforce after years of employment, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for feeling this way. We get used to measuring our contributions in terms of dollars, and it can be hard to break that conditioning, especially if you’ve never had to depend on anyone else financially. Perhaps this is an opportunity to redefine your value beyond money and work.

Besides, the reality of being a parent, especially a mother, is that no matter what choice you make — stay at home to take care of the kids, work full time, work part time, work from home, hire a nanny, send the kids to daycare — someone is going to make you feel bad about it. In a way, that can be liberating: You’re never going to please everyone, so make the decision that works best for your family, and don’t worry about anyone else’s judgment.

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Kristin Wong
Forge
Writer for

Kristin Wong has written for the New York Times, The Cut, Catapult, The Atlantic and ELLE.