Do you work outside the house?

No, not you!!

In PC circles, I was trained to ask a woman (ok, never had for a man) who I suspected was housewife and mother. “Do you work outside the home” which was intended to validate all the work they do maintaining the house and family. Maybe all this lead in was unnecessary, but whatever.

Anyway, I was in conversation with someone and went to ask the question and realized many of us don’t work outside the home and the question has lost it’s purpose. Yes, I analyzed this all midsentence, then I verbalized it.

So now I am thinking what is a good way to ask the question? Is asking if you have a JOB outside the home, enough of a difference semantically? Are you employed, wouldn’t work for a self employed lawyer or accountant, or would it?. Do you earn an income, seems like it crosses a line.

Anything worth thinking about is worth overthinking.

I just say “What do you do for work?” but maybe I’m not being sensitive enough.

Do you work for compensation/wages?

I meet a lot of people who are retired or at/near retirement. I typically ask, “Are you in the workforce?” I use it at all age levels now. None of the stay at home spouses I’ve met seem aggravated by the question.

Same. And a SAHM will replay “oh I stay home with the kiddos” or something like that. My wife actually hated when people assumed she was a SAHM and didn’t have a job, even when she was a SAHM while my kids were younger.


Maybe people assumed it because your kids were so well-behaved. If they were uncontrollable brats, people might have asked where she worked and where the kids went to daycare.


I just ask people what they do. I don’t feel the need to overthink that statement.

I have noticed that people will often ask me what my husband does, but will ask my married male counterparts with children if their wives work.

My husband is a SAHD so I probably notice it more than most.


I ask people, “Are you employed, or are you a stay at home parent or something else?”

Obviously parenting is work but somebody who’s offended by that question I probably wouldn’t want to connect with anyway. I guess somebody who’s been laid off might be offended but context clues might push me away from asking then.

Lately I try not to ask people about work, I’d rather talk about what they enjoy doing.


ooooo that is a good way to lead into “the question”

I ask, “What keeps you busy?” That covers SAH parents, retired people, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t spend their lives in their parents’ basement watching romcoms and playing Angry Birds.