What Not To Say To An At-Home Parent Going Back To Work

The decision to go back to work after being an at-home parent is a very personal one. Going from being with your child every day to being at an office every day is a huge transition for anyone, no matter the circumstance (via Harvard Business School). There are so many logistical plans that need to be considered and executed. On the emotional side, it's tough for all involved and often fraught with worry.

The best thing you can do for a friend or family member who is making the transition to going back to work after being an at-home parent is to support them. Listen to their concerns and see things from their perspective.

Whenever you are talking with someone who has made a big life decision, it's best to choose your words carefully (via Psychology Today). To help them in their new journey, pay attention to what you say before you say it because your intent should always be helpful.

Avoid these statements

We're all human and can be triggered at times, so if you find your own issues are coming up, whether you've been itching to get back to work but haven't yet or fully believe that staying home is the best thing to do, now isn't the time to share it. First, because you want to support and encourage but also this is not about you at the moment (via Buzzfeed).

So avoid saying things such as "That's such a long time to be gone" or "Aren't you going to miss them?" Also equally unhelpful is to dig about if the spouse is pushing them back or say s/he makes enough money.

Even if you believe in working outside the home, don't tell your sad/scary tales as in "When I went back I cried for weeks" or "daycare was awful."

Backhanded compliments are also never good, such as "I admire you because I could never do that" or "I wish I could afford to hire someone to raise my child."

Finally, even though you may be trying to make them feel better, be careful when trying to look on the bright side (via HuffPost). Phrases such as "It's only part-time" or "You've been home so long already" or even worse, "I'd do anything to get away from my kids," even when said in jest, can diminish their feelings.

What to say to someone going back to work

When talking to someone who is going back to work after being an at-home parent, start by letting them know that their feelings are valid. Validation goes a long way in helping a person muddle through their own feelings and arrive at a better place.

Offering validation is one of the very greatest things you can do for someone else. It doesn't mean you agree with what they are saying but rather you understand what they are saying and feeling (via verywell mind). It also lets them know they aren't alone. Give them your full attention and really listen and absorb what they are saying, without checking your phone or interrupting.

If you're a parent who has gone back to work after being home for a while, you can say how you understand all those feelings, but if you haven't experienced it, don't say you relate if you actually don't.

Try to help them see the positives, such as "By working out of the home, you're being a great role model" or "Your child is going to have so much fun making friends at daycare" (via Romper).

Yet perhaps, the very best thing you can say is to ask how you can help. Offer to help choose work clothes, bring dinner during the week, or even babysit so they can get last-minute details finished.