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Topics For Discussion

Topics For Self Reflection

Many of the mothers interviewed said they wish they had been more thoughtful about having children and the impact it would have on their careers and their marriages. They were glad they had their children and kept working, but felt they could have been more prepared. Below are some questions for women to consider when they are making decisions on managing work and family.


  1. What do I like about my job?

  2. What are my career goals?

  3. What are my personal goals?

  4. What personal sacrifices am I willing to make to achieve my career goals?

  5. What career sacrifices am I willing to make to achieve my personal goals?

  6. What are the things most important to my children and how do I find time to do them?

  7. What are the things I most want to do with my children and how do I find time to do them?

  8. What part of my home/family life am I willing to delegate to others?

  9. What do I expect my spouse to do as part of our home/family life?

  10. What trade-offs are my spouse and I willing to make in order to ensure:

    • We find time as a couple?

    • I have personal time?

    • My spouse has personal time?


Topics For Grown Children and Mothers

All of the mothers and grown children interviewed expressed interest in the topic of work and family. While the children interviewed had all grown up with a working mother, few of the families had ever discussed the topic. Below are some questions for mothers and their grown children to start a dialogue. While there is no changing history, the discussion might help the grown children as they nurture their own families.


Mothers Ask Their Children
  1. What are your favorite memories of your childhood?

  2. What did we do together that you want to replicate with your family?

  3. What new experiences do you want to have with your family?

  4. How did you see the parenting role of your parents when you were growing up?

  5. What do you think we each taught you to be successful in life?

  6. What were some of the lessons you learned from other adults in your life (e.g. teachers, grandparents, coaches, etc.)?

  7. What did we all forget to teach you that you had to learn on your own?

  8. How do you define success for yourself and where are you on your checklist?

  9. How did you feel about my working and did your feelings change over time?

  10. Now that you are an adult, what advice would you give working mothers about raising their children?


Children Ask Their Mothers


  1. What are your favorite memories of my childhood?

  2. What part of raising children did you find difficult?

  3. Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?

  4. When you were raising me, there were not as many working mothers in the workplace as there are today. How did you figure it all out?

  5. How did having children impact your career?

  6. Parenting:

    • ​If raised in a two-parent home: How did you as parents divide up the parenting roles?

    • If raised in a single-parent home: How did you manage as a single parent?

  7. What did you try to teach me to be successful in life?

  8. Looking back, is there anything you forgot to teach me?

  9. What do you wish you knew then that you know now?

  10. What wisdom would you pass onto young mothers raising children today?

Lessons for Mothers to Share

Working mothers, or women who plan to become mothers, need to reach out to others with experience to see what they have learned. There are many common issues, and it makes sense to get ideas from people who have been successful at raising children while working. If you are uncomfortable talking to women in your own organization, use your network or those of your friends to find working mothers. If you are a working mother yourself, make time to share your experiences with others. Start the discussion from the topics below, depending on where you are in your life and what you want to do.


  1. Is there a right time from a career perspective to have children?

  2. How did you handle pregnancy and working?


Maternity Leave:
  1. How did you tell your boss you were pregnant?

  2. What arrangements were made to handle your work while you were out?

  3. How much maternity leave did you take and was it enough?


Return to Work:
  1. When you came back to work, how did you feel?

  2. Did people treat you differently?

  3. How did you gear back into the workplace?


Career Planning:
  1. How can I be sure I am still on the fast track even though I have had a baby?

  2. If I want to stay working at my current level but do not want to take on extra work right after having a baby, how can I communicate this?

  3. If I want to stay working but cut my hours, what is the best way to do that?


Role of the Spouse:
  1. How do you and your spouse divide up parenting duties?

  2. What works well and what doesn't?


Child Rearing:
  1. What are the toughest parts of being a parent in: preschool, elementary school, middle school, and high school?

  2. What are the best things to do with children:

    • ​Daily?

    • On weekends?

    • At holiday times?

    • For vacation?

  3. What is the one piece of advice you want to give me?

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