Does Being a Stay-At-Home Mom Carry Stigma in the South Asian Community?

deepastayhome

By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar

Face it, as part of a culture that has been slow to progress when it comes to roles women play in and outside the home, we as moms are constantly being judged. And sometimes, it’s by our own peers—moms themselves. Deepa Daryanani, a mother of two living in the GTA, says her decision to stay at home didn’t come easy.

“First, my husband has a crazy job that sometimes takes him out of town, and often involves very long hours,” said Daryanani, who’s daughters are 4 and 7.   “I am usually the only parent that is available to handle any kids’ issues and house issues. Second, I grew up with a mother who stayed home with us when we were young, and while I knew it wasn’t the only option, I appreciated her being there for us and felt I wanted the same for my kids.”

For Deepa, ‘staying at home’ has also given her the chance to take on opportunities she may not have had if she had been working full time.

“Even though I am “stay at home,” I’ve often done some kind of professional work since they were born — either part-time freelance consulting or volunteering my professional skills to non-profits. I am always on the lookout for new opportunities that allow me to use my intellectual prowess, while still having the flexibility to allow me to be there for the kids. I do wish it were easier to find these kinds of opportunities! I don’t see myself taking a full-time position until they are much older, probably by the time they are in middle school.”

Deepa adds some of the biggest misconceptions about staying at home or being a working mom come from our own community, leading to stigma.

“I think at times people assume that stay at home moms have lots of time to do personal or self-fulfilling things, particularly when the kids are at school,” said Daryanani.  “They can’t imagine how filled up our days get with just managing a household and all the kids’ appointments, etc. In addition, some members of the community from the older generations may feel that working moms are not devoting enough time to their kids and trying to balance too much. However, I don’t feel this is much of a perception among the current generation, as we have a greater appreciation for the value that work can bring to a woman and how that can positively affect her parenting as well.”

Deepa says it’s important for the community to be aware that everyone lives by different expectations and standards.

“Once there is acceptance that others have a different way of managing their own lives, while having the same ultimate goal (a happy, successful family), then misconceptions start to drop away.”

As moms, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom (we all know that’s a bad phrase as we’re really not just ‘staying home’) or a working mom, (and that’s silly too as all moms ‘work’) we should try to empower each other, and Deepa says there are ways to change perceptions.

“The more moms talk openly and share information with each other, the more understanding there will be about each person’s decisions and why it’s right for them. I think it’s important to have this conversation among friends and within “mommy groups,” because when you feel that those whom you are closest to understand you and your choices, you feel more supported in your life.”

She says her two daughters have benefited from her decision to stay home, and she hopes they will appreciate that decision as they get older.

“I believe they see that I made the choice to stay home and take care of them, even though I have many other options out there. Therefore I hope that my decisions make them feel special and show them that I will always be there for the things that are important to them in life. But I also think they benefit a lot from seeing the volunteer work or the occasional consulting work I do as they know there are lots of choices out there for women, which is especially important for me as I have two girls.”

 

What are your thoughts on the stay-at-home vs. working mom debate? what kind of mom are you and have you faced stigma? share your thoughts below with our readers!

 

 

 

 

 


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