we have laid the foundation: God, the creator of all things, created a mother's role.
two main things are mentioned in genesis. our role towards our husbands (being a helper) and our role towards our children (bearing them). however, due to sin, we want to run away from our role, which once was a blessing but has become a burden, due to the fall.
so now the question of career. does a career mesh with God's created purpose for us? is it practical, is it a good thing for a mother to have a career? or should women be homeward focused? why?
the bible speaks to a mother's purpose
“[older women in the church] are to teach what is good, and so train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home...” titus 2:5
“younger widows [should] marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander” 1 timothy 5:14
“[the excellent wife] looks well to the ways of her household,
and does not eat the bread of idleness” proverbs 31:27
the bible makes it very clear that a christian wife and mother is to be the keeper of her home. this is not demeaning (as our culture tries to paint it as being); on the contrary wives/mother are entrusted with a very important and complex job. fortunately, it is a job that taps into the strengths that God has uniquely created women with (for example, studies show that women are better at multi-tasking... a much needed skill with the multifaceted complexities of managing a household, such as making dinner while toddlers are running around and helping older kids do homework!).
mothers have the responsibility to be the main influence in their children’s lives, to keep the household in order and make it a place of peace for the whole family, as well as making it possible to host outside guests (romans 12:13).
personally, i would say that i have never felt more alive as i do as a stay at home mom. this is the job that has tapped best into my personal gifts and passions, and i truly love it. thats not to say it is never hard, or that i never end the day feeling defeated (that has happened plenty of times!) but ultimately i know that it is what God created me to do, and that i am following His word by doing so, which is always the best for us (though not always the easiest).
it is better for children’s behavior
the bible is by far the most important source in instructing the christian’s life. but the cool thing is, God gives instructions for a reason... because he designed us knows what the best thing is for us.
the bible does not stand alone in encouraging a mom to focus on her children, many studies back this up. of particular note is the impact day care has on a child’s behavior: the more time children spend in day care, the more discipline problems they have, up until at least sixth grade. (source)
when we are with our children throughout the day, we can instill biblical values in them, even in the little moments. day care workers (and even teachers) are just doing a job for a paycheck. this not to say that they don't care about their students, but they will never care about the soul of your child like you do.
for example, in all the schools i have worked in, they push tolerance. i don't want my children to learn tolerance, i want them to learn a higher value. i want teach my children to love others, even their enemies, as jesus did. how can they learn this if i am not free and available to instruct them throughout the day, especially in their young, foundational years?
furthermore, being with your children throughout the day shows them how much you love and care for them. they do not have to act out to get your attention; they are secure and assured of your love and care.
about a month ago i was at a christmas party at a large, beautiful house, one that (i assumed) could only come from a two income family. i was wrong! i got into a conversation with the hostess, and asked her what sort of work she does. she told me that her kids are her main focus. “as it should be” she went on to say. “sometimes i substitute teach at my kids’ school. you can definitely tell the difference between the kids with a mom who stays at home and those whose parents both have full time jobs!”
working creates excessive stress on mom
i can personally attest to this. for about two months, by accident, i was a working mom. about 7 months after we got our foster kids, we were told that they would be moved to another foster home after our van broke down and we had no way to transport them to parent visits. i told my work that they could start scheduling me again, and they did (i hadn’t fully quit my job at that time, since we knew the kids might go back with their mom, and i might have to work again). however, when the time came for me to start working, the kids were still with us (and were for two more months, until they were reunited with their birth mom).
i had just about the best “working mom” situation you could have, and it was still hard: I only worked 4.5 hours per day, my commute was minimal, and my mom (who lived with us) watched the kids while i was gone. i even had weekends off, since the kids were starting to stay with their birth mom friday night to sunday at that point. furthermore, the whole time i knew that it was a temporary situation with an end in sight.
while i was at work, all i could think about was what needed to get done at home. i fell behind in my goals for the kids (teaching them letters, numbers, etc). scheduling things like pediatrician check-ups was very difficult. i felt like my attention was divided, and work definitely wasn’t my main focus. i can only imagine how much harder this would be for women who work full time with a long commute and no relatives to help with care.
when a mother has to work in addition to fulfilling her home responsibilities, she is trying to serve two conflicting ends and she feels divided.
in addition to the stress on the mother, stress is created in the marriage when mom works outside the home. parents fight over division of responsibilities like picking up the kids and doing household chores. almost always, the mother ends up doing a greater part of these responsibilities, in addition to her job. this leads to busy, stressed out parents and confused, attention-seeking children. (source and source)
you can be the main influence on your child’s spiritual life
many parents assume that it is the church’s or youth pastor’s role to teach their children about the bible and jesus. however, the main burden of this responsibility lies in the hands of parents (deuteronomy 11:19). being able to focus fully on your children gives you many opportunities throughout the day to disciple them by teaching them the bible, modeling christ-likeness, modeling repentance (when you inevitably fail at christ-likeness!), and speaking into every facet of their lives.
it may even be sin (probably on the husband’s part) if she is pursuing a career
a husband who wants his wife to work is basically saying “hey, honey, can you help me out with my part of the curse? i know that you have the whole childbearing curse, but work is hard, and i think you should help me to bear my burden, too.”
its childish. it is unmanly. but too many times he is getting away with it.
conversely, it may also be sin on the mother’s part if she is working. women want to take over their husband’s role and this may manifest itself in a desire to work so that she can be the leader of the family.
not pursuing a career is counter-cultural
do you long to be normal, to do what everyone else is doing? the norm in america is divorce and kids growing up without a dad. the norm in america is high levels of stress, stress-related illness and high incidences of depression. the norm in america is long hours at work and even working while at home (via the laptop, blackberry, etc). the norm in america is failing schools with greater and greater discipline problems.
be counter-cultural. DONT outsource raising your child to an institution. DONT put your marriage on the rocks for the sake of a job. it will be hard, it will go against the grain and it will ruffle some other people’s feathers, but it will be worth it.
being a stay at home mom is traditional
“traditional” is a word with bad connotations to some people. but for me it is a plus. i am starting to learn that there is wisdom in many of the things that people have been doing for thousands of years. after learning the benefits of traditional diets, i have been changing the way we eat, with noted improvement in our health. after learning the benefits of traditional sleep (sleeping at night, longer in the winter and with total darkness), i have been increasing the amount i sleep and trying to keep our bedroom as dark as possible (source). after learning the benefits of traditional babywearing, i make it a priority to wear our babies as i go through my daily activities.
people have had thousands of years to perfect the art of living. most of the ways they have been doing things for these past thousands of years really are the best. and when all is said and done, i would argue that staying at home is by far the best job for a mom.
do these things resonate with you? why have you chosen to be a stay at home mom, if you are? what advantages have you seen in your life and family?