Debunking 6 Myths About Working Moms. Time To Do Away With These?

Working mom stereotypes have, for far too long, pervaded our consciousness. They should have gone obsolete a long time ago. Working moms, you're raising good children!

Tanvi Akhauri
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Working Mom Stereotypes

Working mom stereotypes have, for far too long, pervaded our consciousness. These toxic tropes are usually put forward as justifications for why women must stop seeking employment outside home and dedicate themselves to work in the employ of patriarchy forever. How that shapes perspectives around motherhood is a key part of the myth.


Why must a woman waste time working or earning when she has a child (or children) to care for? Will the upbringing of such a child be complete? There are a million things she needs to do - feed the child, clean up after them, take them to play, sing them to sleep, teach them - so is it not selfish of her to work professionally? Is she not better off picking a hobby or something? Let the husband earn.

This might be a difficult concept for many to grasp, especially in a traditionally unequal country like India, but employment is more than just about raking in money. It lays the road for independence, liberation, selfhood, and confidence. It is a means of sustenance. So why must women exit the room when they become mothers? 

Moreover, while it's true that some working moms experience guilt about not spending enough time with their children or feeling like they're not meeting expectations in either their career or family life, not all working mothers feel this way. Many working moms feel fulfilled by both their career and family roles.

Working Mom Stereotypes Society Must Break Away From:

1. She is a bad mother to her child

The most common myth about working moms is also the most insidious. Society believes that a woman with a job does so at the cost of good motherhood. Why should she be anywhere else if her child is at home and needs her? How can she be away from her child for so long? Is she escaping her duties? Working mothers are often guilt-tripped over these and more such ideas.


But is raising a child only a mother's responsibility? If the father is out for work, why can't she be? A parent who knows how to manage time between work and home doesn't need unsolicited advice. They know what's best for the child and don't need to hear it from anyone else. Working moms, you're raising good children.

2. She is incompetent, domestically

Society expects a working mom to be unskilled in domestic chores, which becomes a point of contention to such measure as never associated with men. Our films and shows too have furthered this trope; most recently, the audience saw it in Aranyak, in which a career-oriented cop played by Raveena Tandon has no clue how long the veggies need to be left to cook on the gas.

We attach gender to domestic chores like cooking or cleaning, so a man evades accountability for not knowing them. He needs to focus attention on being the breadwinner, society says. Well, guess what? Women are working now too. Housework comprises life skills that we must all pick up on for sustenance. A working mom may know how to clean a house but so should a working dad.

Working mom stereotypes: These should have gone obsolete a long time ago

3. She puts work before family 


A man is hailed for putting work above all else; in fact, he may be given a double promotion for it if he dives in deep enough. A woman is demonised for the same. A man is lauded as a 'family man' for the bare minimum of sparing some time for his family after work. A woman doing as much and more is reprimanded for not being a good enough mother. She is expected to attend to the family and invest herself in home life 24/7.

This is often insinuated in media interviews when women celebrities are asked how they manage work and parenthood together, while the men get a free pass on the inherent sexism of this line of questioning. Does committing yourself to your work mean you are neglecting all else?

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4. She is careless or clumsy


Another favourite film trope shows working moms as caricature figures struggling to keep up with work and home and miserably failing at both. She is clumsy, forgets things, cannot schedule her calendar straight, is so careless about childcare that a third person has to condescendingly show her how it's done.

The only thing wrong with these stereotypes is that they are not true at all. Not all working moms are klutzes blundering around home; although motherhood is a messy journey so klutz-ing around shouldn't have to be taboo at all. Working moms may sometimes need more time than non-working moms to settle into comfortable routines but who says they ultimately don't?

5. She is working to 'prove a point'

Working women, mothers or not, are not going to office and busting their backs over long hours of work only to justify they are equal players in the world today. That is a status they already deserve without having to validate their feminist badges. Why is it difficult to accept that women are working for the same reason men are: for independence and running a family?

Often, such ideas are what allow Indian families to relegate women's incomes as 'pocket money' they are earning so they can buy groceries and shop clothes. Why are we so unwilling to accord respect to the money women are bringing in through hard work while shouldering an unfair heavier burden of housework?

6. She is burdening her husband 

This one is laughable. For decades, women have been expected to follow life instructions patriarchy pamphlets have listed out for them about motherhood, spousal duties, domestic chores, and family honour. Fast forward to today, when the fight for gender empowerment is ruffling up the gender hierarchy, men who are having to shoulder household responsibilities are realising the 'burden' it was all along.

If marriage is a relationship of shared equality, then do men really have the right to call foul when their wives call for them to have greater roles in commitment to parenthood or domestic tasks?

Overall, it's important to recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all experience for working mothers. Each woman's situation is unique, and it's essential to avoid making assumptions or perpetuating stereotypes about working moms

Views expressed are the author's own. 

Suggested Reading: Working Moms Have To Make Tough Calls. But You Do What Needs To Get Done

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