“I wanted to see your take on what is right for a girl, homemaking or working or both...”
I’m actually going to talk a bit about raising girls and boys both to become women and men respectively, but let me start out this post by reminding you, my dear readers, of a few things. I do not seek to stir up contention with this post. I know this is a topic that stirs up strong feelings and ask that if you disagree with my position that you simply click that little red “X” in the corner of the screen to close the post, instead of leaving an argumentative comment. As this is my blog, what you get here is my opinion. I try to be kind, but I also try to be very clear on my position. With those reminders out of the way, let’s tackle this topic. As background, let me share two passages that come to mind immediately when I am asked this question. First, specifically about women, is Titus 2:4-5:
“4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,
5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, the the word of God be not blasphemed.”
The second passage comes from the Family: A Proclamation to the World. Please take the time to read the entire proclamation to learn the beautiful truths we cherish related to families. It is an inspired document. For the purpose of this discussion I’ll share a small part from paragraph 7:
“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”
I believe God gave women and men distinct roles in this life, and has blessed them with talents and abilities in those areas. Women are nurturers, men are providers. Our daughters and sons are raised with several stages of life in mind.
We encourage our children to prepare themselves for marriage and parenthood. Part of that preparation is life skills, part of it is education leading to employment. Both our sons and daughters will be taught the life skills necessary to run a home, such as:
- basic home and vehicle maintenance
- lawn care
These skills are ones that they all need to know how to do well. I want my boys to be able to cook and my girls to be comfortable with changing a tire or working on a home project. Upon marriage these tasks will be divided between the husband and wife, with the wife typically doing more of the ‘home’ chores. Many of these tasks, when occasionally done together, can be a fun way to strengthen your relationship with a spouse. Other times a spouse may take over a task temporarily. My husband has taken over cooking family meals during a difficult pregnancy or after birth, and I have done the mowing occasionally when he was not able to do so.
Both our sons and our daughters are encouraged to get all the learning and education they can before marriage. Our sons seek education that will enable them to support their families financially. Our daughters seek education that will enable them to support themselves (if they never marry) or their families if their spouse is unable to at some point due to temporary illness, disability, death, or other unexpected circumstances. Before marriage our sons are also expected to serve a mission, sharing the gospel with others. This typically happens at age 19.
After Marriage, Before Children
After marriage we encourage our daughters to support their husbands, to focus more on building a home than on pursuing a career. Yes, they might be working outside the home some during this time, that is up to the couple. However, we want the focus to be on their marriage, not a career. We encourage our sons to work, to do all they can to provide the necessary things for their family. We encourage them to live within their means.
I want to mention a related point here. We encourage all of our children to never deliberately put off having children in pursuit of careers or education. Yes, it may be challenging but parenthood is an integral part of God’s plan and purpose for marriage. While God may not bless every family with children, scripture always speaks of children as a blessing.
After Children Start Arriving
Once a child has entered the family we (my husband and I) believe the most important place for a mother to be is at home. Nothing a woman can do outside the home will ever have the importance of being home with her children to nurture and teach them. No amount of money is worth forsaking your pivotal role as the heart of your home and family and going out to work. All the education and training our daughters receive before having children will only be a blessing in the endeavor of motherhood. The role of mother and wife is more complex, fulfilling, and challenging than any outside work. It takes all of a woman’s time and talents to do it well, along with a large portion of God’s help.
A husband’s most important role in the family is as the provider, protector, and spiritual leader of the home. They stand between their family and the world. It is a difficult task, one I am eternally grateful to my husband for doing. This means men are the primary wage earning spouse. They are expected to work, and to work hard. They are to lead by example, bringing their family closer to Christ, loving them and sacrificing for them as Christ sacrificed for us.
How can a wife contribute to the financial well-being of the family? In a very real way, the way a woman manages home life impacts the budget. Some simple ways include cooking instead of eating out, cleaning and maintaining what you have, making wise purchases for food and other items, and being content with what you have. It is the mother’s attitude most of all that sets the tone for the home climate.
A woman may be able to earn some money from home, but a couple should carefully watch that mother is not taking on more than is wise. Home and family life should not suffer at the expense of working from home. Some possibilities to earn money from home that I have personally done are childcare, as well as working on e-products, and contributing to unit studies for The Old Schoolhouse(I’m currently doing these last two). As you see by my very short list, I have not done much outside work. It is hard to keep the focus on my family if I try to do too much, so I deliberately choose to focus more on living within my husband’s income than adding to it.
Is it ever okay for a mother to work outside the home? Yes, but the situations are very limited. If your husband physically cannot work for a time (like severe illness or disability) or if you lose your spouse, a mother may need to work. If you cannot feed your children and nobody will help you feed them temporarily(I’m thinking extended family or church) then by all means, get a job temporarily.
What if your husband loses his job? We’ve been there, and I’ll be honest, it’s terrifying. My advice is for the husband to get whatever work he can while you cut back to complete basics and try to bring in money from home. If you had no children then I would say seek employment, but in this section we’re talking about a family with children in the mix. Do everything in your power to keep mother at home with the children. We started doing daycare in our home during this particular period of time and went through some health challenges on my part (including my first miscarriage and a pregnancy where I was bleeding and we didn’t know what would happen). Pray. Trust your family to God and then do what you can. Sell the house and anything else you can. Move in with family (we were about a week from that when God provided the job my husband is still in today).
When is it NOT okay for mom to get a job? When you’re choosing to live beyond your husband’s income. Do not send mom to work so you can have a bigger house, newer or multiple cars. Don’t send mother to work so your family can eat out and buy clothing new at the store. I’m all for acting counter-culturally to keep a mother at home. Sell your house and rent or move to a tiny place you can afford. It is better to live together in a very small space than to take mother out of the home and send her to work. Sell your vehicles and drive something debt free but old. Do not have cell phones, tv, cable, internet. Don’t eat out, ever. Bake bread, eat rice and beans regularly, grow a garden. Buy clothes second hand and only when you absolutely need to. Got a baby? Use cloth diapers! For a few hundred dollars up front ($300 or less) you will be able to diaper a child through potty training and then turn around and reuse those diapers for the next child, and the next. Compare that to spending several thousand dollars in disposables for ONE child.
To Sum Up
We teach our sons and daughters to look forward to and work toward fulfilling the roles God gave to Adam and Eve.
Men are to be the providers, working and standing between their family and the world as protector and spiritual head. Women are to be keepers at home, nurturing the children God entrusts to the family, and being a helpmeet to their husband.
Being a mother or father is a sobering, awe-inducing responsibility. Being a family in these troubled times takes our best efforts. We choose to stand for family. We teach our children to aspire to the timeless, God-instituted roles for men and women. We cannot do it without God’s help.