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Reality Check: Dissed By Another Mom

Q  A neighbor who's a stay-at-home mom makes little digs about my working  -- things like "doing what's best for the child" and other judgmental cracks. What should I say?
A First, you should ask yourself why this kind of remark bothers you so much. Is it just because it's insensitive or because you feel guilty or ambivalent about working outside the home? If you're not comfortable with your status as a working mom, it's not the fault of this insensitive clod; it's something for you to think about changing or altering your viewpoint on. So before you react, it's always good to know what you are reacting to.

It's also smart to step back and look at what's really going on here. The reason the mom wars continue is that a) most mothers  -- including your tormentor  -- are less than 100 percent at ease with whichever choice they've made and b) people just can't mind their own business. You have the option of not responding to her comments  -- which may well stem from her own insecurity  -- but maybe you've decided against that because it's only provoked more annoying remarks. You can engage in battle by throwing down your own gauntlet ("What's best for my child is seeing that women can be successful in and out of the home..."). But you'll probably just feel (and sound) defensive.

Or you can take the high road and offer her the support and respect all moms ought to show one another. "I agree that we should each do what we think is best for our children, and I think it's admirable that you're staying home to raise Jillian." Poof, the wind will be knocked right out of her sails.

She may not laud your choices, but I doubt that you'll get any more put-downs. In the end, it's you and your kids who matter, not the moralistic preaching of those who really just want their choices to be blessed.