I found this book at my local library and have been reading it for the past week. It’s called Hold On To Your Kids. It’s about the effects of peer dependency in the lives of kids and how society as a whole is paying the price for the disconnection of families that is sadly, typical of most American households. One of the key points so far in the book is the reality that many kids are being set up for peer dependent tendencies soon after birth when many are being placed in day cares from only 6 weeks of age. Does anyone question whether it’s natural or healthy to remove a newborn from the care of its mother and place it in the arms of a stranger when barely 2 months old?
Additionally, I have been mulling over this article that my bloggy buddy Mrs. Franklin linked to from Ladies against Feminism. The article focused on the fact that the Black woman and full time homemaking are pretty much unheard of. I can attest to the truth of that, if only anecdotally. LAF reported that they have heard from many Black women that Biblical womanhood, at least as it’s defined at LAF, is unattainable for most Black women, and is an option reserved for the privileged few. I have been jotting down my thoughts on the implications of that interview and will most probably share them in a future post.
Many times this issue is oversimplified and presented as an all or nothing proposition. Women are made to feel less than worthy because they are making what they feel is the only, or at least the best option for their families. They love God and resent being told that they are bad mothers or even bad Christians because they work outside the home. Many working mothers, as well, are not open to the idea that it is indeed possible for a family to live on one income. Most families aren’t willing to abandon the typical American of lifestyle of excess, convenience, and indulgence. As a matter of fact, we have come to view many luxuries (cell phones, cable TV, etc.) as necessities, when disposing of them could free hundreds of dollars from our budgets each month.
I am not interested in perpetuating an all or nothing line of thought here. I would however, like for us to be honest enough to admit that all choices aren’t equal, so that even if we do have to make hard choices, we are aware of the implications of those choices, and can ask God to help us to do whatever we must to provide a home and family that makes our children less vulnerable to the destructive cultural forces competing for control of their minds and hearts. The point of this post is to ask the question: what is Biblical womanhood, and is full time wife and motherhood the epitome of God’s design for women? The other point is to determine if, according to scripture, a wife and mother should be dedicated to the service of her home and family full time or if it is damaging for her attention to be divided between her work inside the home and additional work outside the home.
Scripture is clear that a virtuous wife watches well over the ways of her household (proverbs 31) and is busy at home, loving her children and submitting to her own husband (Titus 2). She is also opens her home in hospitality and ministers to those around her who are in need (1 Tim. 5). Personally, I have found this to be a full time job itself, and there are areas where I am sorely lacking! I can’t imagine trying to fulfill all these duties in addition to devoting an additional 40 or more hours per week to another job. The simple truth is that it is nearly impossible to watch well over the ways of a house when you are rarely in it. This is not a condemnation of working mothers. It is simply a fact. And any honest woman trying to do both will admit that her commitment to her outside vocation usually means that the home life lacks in major ways. When I have one chaotic day, as I described in this post, my family is in disarray. When every day is one of those days, it must be doubly difficult for a home to be a comfortable haven and refuge for the family.
The question raised in the article from LAF coupled with the information found in the book on peer dependency that I have been reading converged in my mind and made me wonder why, given what’s at stake, are families not willing to go the distance, and make the necessary sacrifices, to provide a home life that is in the best interest of children? I do understand the reasoning behind our Black Christian sisters who take exception with the idea that working mothers are the antithesis of what a woman should be. There are large numbers of single mothers in the Black community who are doing the best they can to raise godly children while living lives that honor God. Many (maybe even most) of the fathers are absent and non-supporting so staying at home with the kids is not an option. Remember as I’ve said before, nearly 70% of Black babies are born to single mothers.
However, I know many women, of all races and marital status, for whom the idea of being a homemaker is not at all appealing. Even among married women, the idea is foreign at best and repulsive at worst. Those who are at home when their children are small are actively looking forward to the day when the kids reach middle school age so that they can begin to pursue their dreams and career goals. Ironically, this is the age when kids are most vulnerable to peer dependency and it’s most damaging manifestations.
So what can we, as women in the body of Christ, do to support one another and help rescue our children from the damaging effects of these current societal trends? I mocked Hillary Clinton and her “It takes a village” slogan a few years ago, because I know she considers government to be that village, a horrible parent indeed! But in the spirit of Titus 2, can Christian women join together as a village to train younger women and support other mothers who, despite their best efforts, could really use a little help? Is this part of our call to extend our hands to the needy? I see a generation of lost kids and think that the time for browbeating and finger pointing has ended. We need to be moved with compassion as Christ was.
Over the next couple of weeks, if baby delays its arrival, I would like to explore the issues and ramifications surrounding the LAF article. I think it has implications for our culture at large, not just the Black community. But for now, I am simply interested in whether or not you think it is possible for a woman to have it all, at the same time and do it well. You know what I think, but in case I haven’t made it clear, I don’t think so. But it isn’t enough for me to say so and walk away unconcerned, is it?