I know this post will sound very harsh to some people, but you know me, I like to say things as I see them. I’m currently in my second pregnancy and all of a sudden I remember how annoying it is to repeatedly respond to the same questions.
Most of the questions are for small talk purpose, like “when are you due?, “how are you feeling?” or “any weird night cravings?” they are annoying just because we have to answer them every day, many times a day, but you know, it´s fine…
But there are some questions that are very annoying and sometimes rude (yes, rude!) to hear when you are a working woman expecting a child.
Figure this out: you are a woman enjoying your career and have decided that it’s time to have a family, or to expand it. That’s great, congrats! You think everyone is going to congratulate you and be excited about your new life adventure… and suddenly you are regularly confronted with these 5 questions:
1. Do you want more after this?
I hear this all too often when you are pregnant with the first one. And continues until you get pregnant with the second one (if you decide to have a second one). What does it matter to you? Let me enjoy my first child and you will see if I will have a second. And by the way, families with one child are perfectly fine thank you.
Stop asking this, it’s rude.
2. How long are you going on maternity leave for?
Officially the minimum maternity leave in Switzerland is 14 weeks. Indeed, a shame compared to our neighbors in Europe but as long as women do not complain more vigorously about that, it is not going to change quickly. So… most of us will take this amount of weeks unless you have a very good employer and/or manager and you can add some unpaid leave on top of it. Still, it is rare that you hear women taking more than six months.
The real problem with this question are the reactions. No matter what you say, it will not be enough because people will say: “So short! Such a small baby in the kita…. “. Or the reverse, if you do manage to take even more than six months: “Oh that long?! Are you not worried you will lose out on your career?”
This is a useless question.
3. Are you going to stop working?
Why? Millions on mothers around the world work, why shouldn’t I? And why that disapproving face once I reply like that? If a woman has a fulfilling job and enjoy working, why should she stop working after having children?
This question is irritating.
4. Are you reducing your working time?
After question number 3, this will follow automatically. Swiss people think that once you are a mother you will reduce your working time (check my posts XX and XX). And here again the usual disapproval reaction when you say – “no, I will come back full time”. You look like an unnatural mom.
If you say “I will come back 60% for a short period, then full time again” . Then you go back in the box “unnatural mom”.
If you say “I will come back 40 to 60%”, it seems ok, absolutely normal for other moms. Not so much, though, for your employer…
If you say “I will work one or two days a week”, It is accepted by other parents with small children but you are grilled by your employer.
This question is vicious, because it seems there is no right response.
5. What are you going to do with your child while you are working?
This question per se is not bad. Bus as usual the reaction of the response make the difference. We all know how challenging and expensive the childcare system is in Switzerland (see my previous post) and we should all be very happy when we find a solution which fits our needs. So please, when a mother-to-be tells you how she is going to organize her family life, listen and do not judge. Do not say “Poor baby at the kita” or “Is the day mother a good solution for the baby’s social skills?” or similar comments.
Every solution is a good solution if the parents are happy with.
This question is annoying only because the reactions are often judgmental.
A very interesting reflection is that dads rarely are confronted with these questions or reactions. And in today’s modern family organization, dads play a crucial role in the child-care solution. How often has your husband been asked “Are you going to reduce working hours after your child arrives? “ I know a couple of dads who would be delighted to reduce to 80% to have a full day to dedicate to their children. But, alas, Switzerland is still not ready for that.
On a more serious note: you are, of course, very welcome to pose those questions to a pregnant working woman, just remember not to judge her responses and be prepared for the annoyed reaction.