I have a lot of friends who choose to stay home, and either quit working while their children are small, or decide to take on a less demanding role at work. One of the most insensitive comments that I’ve heard from people is “Why are you wasting your degree?” The person uttering that comment needs to step back and think about exactly what that means. There may be many reasons that someone makes the decision to stay home, and most of those reasons aren’t anyone else’s business. I’ve heard from many women that it would cost more in daycare for them to go back to work. I know many women whose husbands have very demanding careers, and all of the childcare falls to them. Single parenting small children while working a full time job is something that I’m not entirely sure I could manage. When one spouse works long, hard hours, that leaves the other in a role that is very similar to being a single parent.
Frankly, some people simply choose to take time out from their careers and spend time at home with their children. Think about it- they have time to cook dinners. My family eats out a few times per week, because I don’t always have time to cook, and it’s not always at the top of my priority list. They may have more time to exercise. My exercise time is tightly controlled, and is only through sheer strength of will. It could just be about healthy choices for their family. How is that wasting your degree?
I will also point out that working outside the home with children can be very stressful at times. A lot of the time. Choosing a less stressful, crazy, and chaotic lifestyle is not a bad thing. It is not a waste.
There is nothing saying that women who choose to stay home when their children are little can’t go back to work later. You can’t take away someone’s degree. Sure, skills may become obsolete, but she will still have the degree. And taking time off from your career, isn’t a “waste”. It’s about priorities, and where you choose to spend them. Nothing bad about that!