SAHM Hell

You might be tired of the topics of childbearing and childraising, and think there is nothing more to be said, but stay with me here. I want to offer yet another perspective.

My ward has a lot of people who have immigrated to the United States from points south. Our talks and lessons are all translated into Spanish, or, if the speaker is from Mexico, into English. Many of my hermanos y hermanas enjoy bearing their testimonies every month, and their words are always inspiring, even though I hear them through a translator. It is clear that the restored gospel has brought them happiness and hope, and that even though they are in a new, strange country, the church is their home. I am honored to worship with them.

When we bear testimony, we often enumerate our blessings. Just about every month, I hear one of my hispanic sisters say something like this:

“I’m grateful for the church and the prophet. I’m grateful that God has blessed me with a wonderful husband and healthy children, and that we are sealed in the temple. I’m grateful for my good job.”

The jobs they have aren’t that great – grocery store bagger, hotel maid, assembly line worker – but that makes their gratitude very inspiring and admirable. And I find it even more admirable that they have managed to avoid the acrimony, bitterness and pointlessness of the working mother debate. It does not seem to cross their minds that they might be failing in their sacred gender roles, or robbing their husbands of their roles, by contributing to the family income. I have tentatively concluded that our interpretation of the Proclamation reflects a privileged position, and that other Mormons in various parts of the world who do not share our privilege might have a different understanding.

Our rhetoric about the importance of the mother has now reached the point where many women in North America view themselves as the absolute last ditch in the defense of goodness and morality. If a mother earns a paycheck, she is taking her finger out of the dike that is holding back a tidal wave of evil, and to work outside the home is to put her young ones in grave danger. That is a very heavy burden for a woman to carry, and an unfair one, too. Besides, it just simply isn’t true. If we define successful LDS parenthood as producing children who remain faithful to the church, working moms have nothing to worry about. The church has repeatedly conducted research as to what helps youth serve missions and marry in the temple, and the results of the research are always more or less consistent. Consider this excerpt from a study published in the December 1984 Ensign:

“Some factors have little effect on whether a young man marries in the temple or goes on a mission: the distance he lives away from the meetinghouse, the number of young people in his school who are LDS, whether his parents were converts, his father’s occupation, or whether his mother is employed.”

To me, our agonizing over how many hours per week a woman can work before she becomes a terrible mother looks a lot like counting steps on the Sabbath. I think there is something to be said for the way hispanic women in the church refrain from judging one another on this issue.  Maybe they can show us the way out of this mess. Whether we like it or not, they are the future of LDS womanhood. That future is bright, and it holds nothing we need to fear.

Comments

  1. I love this post. I’ve always been more than a little uncomfortable with the unspoken upper/middle-class privilege inherent in the (endless, passionate) SAHM debates.

  2. I have tentatively concluded that our interpretation of the Proclamation reflects a privileged position, and that other Mormons in various parts of the world who do not share our privilege might have a different understanding.

    Great point, Mark. I agree completely. Having one parent care for children full time is nice, but it’s definitely a luxury. And by “luxury” I mean that you have to have a pretty high income to even think about doing it. And of course as you point out, most of the world doesn’t share American income levels.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    I love the line “I’m grateful for my good job.” Quite touching, really.

    How vigorous are the mommy wars these days? Quite honestly, I never notice this issue any more. We have lots of women who work, a fair number who don’t, and I simply don’t notice any acrimony over it either way.

    But then, I’m not a woman and I don’t go to RS, so maybe the issue is just off of my radar screen. I would be interested in hearing tales from the front concerning contemporary angst over this issue.

  4. Good point, Mark. That bit from the Ensign is very useful. I find ‘the number of young people in his school who are LDS’ bit especially comforting as that’s something we hear from expat-critical Americans sometimes.

  5. Naismith says:

    We have lots of women who work, a fair number who don’t,

    Statements like that makes me cringe, and it is not neutral wording.

    I work, I’ve always worked, the only difference was that for some years it was inside the home and other times it was outside the home.

    Before WORKING MOTHER magazine, parents who were not employed were referred to as “fulltime parents.” Which I think describes the job they do.

  6. Naismith says:

    Having one parent care for children full time is nice, but it’s definitely a luxury. And by “luxury” I mean that you have to have a pretty high income to even think about doing it.

    When I was a mother at home fulltime with three children in the 1980s, our family income was $6,000 per year, not “high” even back then.

    My son is a public schoolteacher, one of the lowest-paying jobs for college graduates, and his wife is at home fulltime.

    I honestly don’t think it is a matter of income per se.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    Naismith, obviously I was using “work” as shorthand for employment outside the home. I of course didn’t mean to convey any sort of nuance to the effect that SAHMs don’t actually do any “work,” and I apologize if that is the sense you took from my words. It certainly was unintended.

  8. Julie M. Smith says:

    Mark Brown,

    Is there anything in your post that would lead a SAHM to conclude that she was doing anything useful?

    If so, please point it out to me because I missed it. If not, I am wondering why you think the Church has put so much emphasis on the SAHMing.

    Also: all the talk about luxury cracks me up. As I’ve mentioned in other conversations, I’ve been a SAHM on as little as 12K per year (oh yeah, and that was in CA in the 90s). It may not be possible for recent immigrants to have a SAHM, but anyone with a toe in the middle class who thinks it is not possible really meant to say “it is not possible given the kind of lifestyle I choose to live.” Which is certainly their right to make that decision, but let’s at least be honest about it.

  9. Obviously they’re alive and well…

  10. Rosalynde says:

    Mark, I appreciate your conciliatory intent here, and there’s a certain intuitive logic to this often-repeated point: disadvantaged women have to work, only privileged women can afford to stay home, and thus staying home is not the moral badge some proponents claim but in fact, as the mark of pivilege, a moral stain.

    But this point is always, in every discussion, a red herring, because the intuitive logic is wrong. Labor statistics show that, your lovely anecdotal sisters aside, educated, middle- and upper-middle class women are more likely to enter the labor market on the career track: full-time, relatively constant employment. By contrast, disadvantaged women tend to work less: they work part-time and intermittently, dipping in and out of the labor market based on their family obligations. In other words, disadvantaged women are in fact more likely to stay home to meeet family obligations than advantaged women, because the opportunity cost of staying home is much lower for disadvantaged women. (My source for these statistics is here.)

  11. Thank you Naismith, Julie, and Rosalynde for your posts.

    When I had my first baby in 1987–and when I had my second in 1990–my husband was in full-time graduate school. And I stayed home.

    Of course it was tough. Of course we had next-to-nothing materially. President Benson said to do it, so I did.

    I think you–and about 90% of the “I can’t stay home” crowd–are just plain wrong.

  12. Can I also ask why the inflammatory title? Where is the “hell” of which you speak?

  13. Eric Russell says:

    “It does not seem to cross their minds that they might be failing in their sacred gender roles, or robbing their husbands of their roles, by contributing to the family income.”

    It doesn’t cross their minds because the church has not taught that such is the case for them. I have never heard anyone say that women who must work to support their families are wrong to do so.

    Any notion of “stay home and take a welfare check” is, I think, decades behind us, if such an attitude ever existed on a wide scale at all.

  14. Kevin Barney says:

    Ann no. 9, you are quite right. I simply didn’t realize that this continues to be such a sore and prickly subject. I don’t see any evidence of this great divide among the women in my ward, but it would appear I just haven’t been looking hard enough. So, by all means, those with strong feelings on this subject should express them. I am interested in your perspectives.

  15. Mark IV says:

    Hi Julie! Fancy seeing you here!

    The point of the post is that good parenting involves a lot more than just answering “NO” to the question: Are you employed?” I think it is often, (not always) a superficial issue.

    I know lots of women who spend their days going to the gym, volunteering at the school, scrapbooking, doing church callings, etc., for at least 20-30 hours per week and who consider themselves SAHMs. I know others who do child care or hair styling in their homes, and they also consider themselves SAHMs. I guess I just don’t think it is a very useful distinction.

    We probably have differing views about how much the church emphasizes SAHMing. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that precise term, in fact. What I have heard, at least for the last 30 years, is that parents should make their children their first priority, and spend as much time with them as possible. That includes men, who often now work 60 hours weeks in order to underwrite their wife’s lifestyle I described in the previous paragraph.

    Julie, I apologize to you if my words were offensive. I do not mean to denigrate the sacrifice some parents make in order for the mother to be home full-time. I’m not saying that mothers are not important; I’m saying that people can arrange their circumstances in a variety of ways and still have wonderful children.

    By the way, I’m curious how you respond to the study from the Ensign.

    Rosalynde,

    Thanks for the link, and thanks for acknowledging my intent with my “sweet anecdotal sisters”.

    If I understood the article you linked to, it applied to developed societies. Don’t you think it’s possible the church members in The Phillipines see things differently than we do? The church, through the agency of BYU’s Marriott school, lends money to women in order for them to start businesses.

  16. I can see all the “privileged” SAHMs running down the street to the nearest market — gotta be first in line for the baglady position.

  17. Three things:

    1) It can be instructive to listen to why others feel blessed. It can be humbling.

    1) The general counsel about this issue is almost identical in spirit to the counsel regarding family size: Make it a matter of careful and thoughtful prayer. Here is the ideal; work out the particulars on your own. I refuse to judge someone based on whether or not the wife works outside the home, since that is not my responsibility. Period. I will counsel them if my calling requires it, but even then I will not judge them.

    2) As to income constraints, a simple question dealing ONLY with the issue of financial need: How many married mothers need to work due in large part to the amount of debt their families have accumulated, including their mortgages to finance the size of their houses? On average, the American house is twice as large as the European version, and the average square feet per resident in America is enormous compared to the rest of the world. I am guilty of this over-debt, and it hampers my ability to manage my money in the way I would like to manage it. In summary, how many of these perceived conflicts would disappear or at least be mitigated if we followed all of the counsel we have been given that influences our ability to manage our own money properly?

    On a personal note: When I taught high school in the Deep South, one of my bright MORMON students said in Economics, in complete sincerity, that anyone who had kids when their income was below $25,000 was being totally irresponsible and should be encouraged to stop. (I didn’t bother to tell her and the class what I was being paid at the time, while supporting 4 children.) That attitude, I believe, although expressed much more subtly by most, is what the brethren are addressing when they talk about a lot of these related topics.

    Again, as with number of children, I cannot make a blanket statement that judges worthiness based on a mother’s work situation – nor can I do so based on income per child. However, I can appreciate the counsel to consider our financial habits and how they affect our ability to have children and rear children in whatever way we deem to be ideal.

  18. John Williams says:

    I wonder if there is a correlation between children going to college and their mothers being SAHMs.

    I fully support and respect Mexican immigrants and I’m not surprised that Mexican mothers would work in menial jobs, but I wonder if this has some sort of effect on how their children turn out.

  19. Mark IV says:

    Eric, # 13,

    It doesn’t cross their minds because the church has not taught that such is the case for them. I have never heard anyone say that women who must work to support their families are wrong to do so.

    The problem arises because people try do outdo one another regarding how low your income has to be before the wife has to work, and no matter what, there is always somebody who got by on less. In the comments so far, we have heard from women who got by on $6,000/year, $12,000/year, and “next to nothing”. The implication is that anybody ought to be able to do the same. Am I wrong?

  20. Sorry, one more: Yes, Mark, I do think much of this is generational and sociological. In our own Church history, pioneer women almost always worked on the farm right alongside their husbands, sons and daughters. Even today, in rural, agricultural areas like where I was raised, many “SAHM’”s actually work long hours on their land. I don’t take the counsel lightly, but I also accept fully the disclaimer included in the foundational discourses on the subject.

  21. Mark IV says:

    Allison, # 11,

    I think you–and about 90% of the “I can’t stay home” crowd–are just plain wrong.

    Perhaps you could be a little more clear? Since I didn’t say “I can’t stay home”, I don’t understand your blanket objection.

  22. Mark IV says:

    Ray, exactly. Two or three generations ago in rural Utah, both the women and the men worked like rented mules just to keep body and soul together.

  23. Our rhetoric about the importance of the mother has now reached the point where many women in North America view themselves as the absolute last ditch in the defense of goodness and morality. If a mother earns a paycheck, she is taking her finger out of the dike that is holding back a tidal wave of evil, and to work outside the home is to put her young ones in grave danger.

    I don’t doubt that some women may see their staying at home in this way, but I bet there are a lot of others who see it much more positively. Rather than conceiving of their role as preventing their children from going to hell with the rest of society, they see themselves as providing something good for their family that other people are less able to provide.

    If we define successful LDS parenthood as producing children who remain faithful to the church, working moms have nothing to worry about.

    That’s not how I define successful parenthood. That may be part of it, but that’s not all of it. I also feel that I should have a strong bond with my children and be intimately involved in their lives. If I took a job that required that I be away from home too much, my kids would probably not be much more likely to fall away than if I had a less demanding job, but I would still try to avoid an excessively demanding job because of the toll I expect it would take on my family relationships.

  24. The great thing about the rural farming lifestyle is that families were working together. So mothers and fathers were working, but they were also parenting at the same time. I often fantasize about that kind of arrangement. But it also has it’s downsides. There’s no way living that lifestyle that I could ever afford a bigscreen HDTV or have the leisure time to watch it much. And, of course, those are necessities I can’t go without.

  25. Naismith says:

    The point of the post is that good parenting involves a lot more than just answering “NO” to the question: Are you employed?” I think it is often, (not always) a superficial issue.

    I know lots of women who spend their days going to the gym, volunteering at the school, scrapbooking, doing church callings, etc., for at least 20-30 hours per week and who consider themselves SAHMs. I know others who do child care or hair styling in their homes, and they also consider themselves SAHMs. I guess I just don’t think it is a very useful distinction.

    I totally agree with this, and have made the same argument elsewhere. I just think your post got sidetracked with the notion that a SAHM is a “privileged position” (which is clearly not true) and the blanket statement that “working moms have nothing to worry about.”

  26. OK, I told myself I was going to be patient and read other perspectives before I contributed more, but I’m logging off in a couple of minutes, so here’s one more:

    I think the counsel regarding employment outside the home arose out of something the Brethren were seeing in the middle- and upper-class families of the time – so, yes, it reflects that socio-economic level. There is a big difference between working to take proper care of children by providing the basic necessities (however you define that term) and working to provide a specific level of comfort in order to “keep up with the Joneses.” I will NEVER get into a $6,000/yr vs. $12,000/yr vs. whatever debate, and I believe the counsel was NEVER intended to create that type of comparison and judgment. However, I also believe how we manage our money is a pretty good indicator of our priorities – which I believe is the heart of the principle behind the general counsel to avoid assuming both parents need to be employed outside the home and, instead, make it a matter of personal contemplation and prayer. At heart, this is no different than every other decision that might have a significant impact on our marriages and our families – and, in practice, it applies to everyone, regardless of income and the actual decision each couple makes.

  27. Yikes, my son just asked me to add this ad council message he heard yesterday:

    “the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, daddy — Eventually, kids stop believing in things they don’t see.”

  28. In an extended-family conversation we had around Mother’s day, my husband pointed out the problem with “conditional statements”. Someone will say, “My mother was so wonderful b/c she stayed home and was there for me.” Someone else will say, “my mother was so frugal; she managed to raise all 8 of us kids on my dad’s small income as an injured crane operator…” So then the women who don’t stay at home or don’t know how to make dried beans 100 different ways start feeling as if no one appreciates the hard work they’ve done. At the same time, someone praises their mother with, “my mother is so intelligent, she finished her PhD while having all 5 of us kids and then was able to break through the glass ceiling and made a huge difference as CEO of her company” Then the women who didn’t earn a college degree or the ones who earned a degree and then chose to stay home start feeling as if no one realizes that they’re also intelligent.
    What we really need is a way to say, “I love my mother and she was wonderful. The End.” I think that was what Mark Brown was going for in his post. Comparison is ultimately a terrible thing b/c no one wins.

  29. Mark, the emphasis you placed on the words “or whether his mother is employed” from the 1984 Ensign reminded me of something Elder Scott said a few years later in general conference:

    “Recently I reviewed the history of many missionaries and found a powerful correlation between exceptional missionaries and mothers who chose to remain home, often at great financial and personal sacrifice.”  (Ensign, May 1993, p. 33.)

    I’m not saying Elder Scott would dispute the findings of the 1984 study which found no correlation between employed mothers and the missionary decision.  He is commenting on “exceptional missionaries.”

  30. John Williams says:

    R. Gary, are those the missionaries who were Zone Leaders?

  31. Sad but true, jab. In that vein, it was instructive for me to go through the Marriage and Family Relations class.

    When this subject came up, nearly everyone got defensive. Tha SAHMs in the class were almost militant about the idea that they were undervalued and ignored by the very church that told them to stay home. The EOTHMs were adamant that they were persecuted for making a choice that some said was ignoring the advice of the prophets. Some of them said they could not attend RS because of that attitude.

    In other words, Kevin, this is an ongoing debate with emotions running high on both sides. IMO, however, it is a needless debate. We should all agree that whatever choice a mother makes it is a legitimate one and can be a successful one, especially if we are dedicated to helping each other rather than judging each other.

  32. There are so many differences between “mothers that remain home” that blanket statements like that by Elder Scott are not particularly helpful.

    For example, how did he gather this data? Was he talking abouth mothers who stayed home the entire period from birth through MTC? Were there any that worked part-time? Were there any that had home-based businesses? Family businesses they helped out with? Were any in school or studying for advanced degrees during that period?

    I also wonder (as, apparently, does JW) how was he defining “exceptional.” Baptism rate? Leadership positions? Mastery of the language?

  33. Julie M. Smith says:

    Mark IV, you say you are curious as to how I respond to the study in the Ensign. I have no response to it unless I get a lot more information about it: that half sentence doesn’t tell us much: were these women employed when their children were infants? preschoolers? in school? did they work part-time? full time? flex time? out of the home? how were their children cared for in their absence?

    In other words, I think the statement is pretty useless without more information on what exactly was studied.

    Let’s say, though, that what they found was that women could put their infants in 80-hour-per-week baby factories with negligent non-English speaking illegal immigrants who regularly burned them with their cigarette butts for interrupting Jerry Springer and that all of these kids ended up with higher rates of activity in the church and fresher breath and whiter teeth than the kids of LDS SAHMs. . . . So what? I’m not in it for the sociology (which I agree is mixed); I’m in it because of the theology.

  34. This is an issue that, like someone said above, deals with the ideal and lets us seek revelation in our particular situations. I don’t see the “privileged position” interpreting the Proclamation as the Brethren constantly do for everyone (saying do all you can to get mom home, aim toward that, but do your best and then let the Lord carry the rest). Mothers should be at home wherever possible is the rule, and it’s not just preached to the middle/upper class. But the reason there is room for personal revelation is because there ARE situations that exist that leave no choice.

    Incidentally, studies that try to show that there is no effect on children whether mom stays at home or not might miss other elements and effects of following this counsel. Consider this from Pres. Packer:

    “A sister may finally come to see why we stress the importance of mothers staying at home with their children. She understands that no service equals the exalting refinement which comes through unselfish motherhood. Nor does she need to forgo intellectual or cultural or social refinement. Those things are fitted in—in proper time—for they attend the everlasting virtue which comes from teaching children.”

    Maybe the counsel to do all you can to be home as a mom isn’t just about the children….

  35. jab-

    I disagree. I don’t think anyone is necessarily comparing when expressing gratitude for their own mother for a particular reason. The people who get offended are comparing–and being ridiculous. I can easily sit and listen to such gratitude and know I have nothing in common with that person’s mother and find it nice that he/she expressed gratitude to his/her mother.
    It’s pretty generic to simply state you love and yada yada (however that’s nice too–especially the yada yada part).

  36. The day the brethren become women is the day I start trusting their advice on mothering. Actually, not even then.

  37. mmiles, I didn’t mean that those expressing gratitude are comparing, or even that every time we hear expressions of gratitude that we compare, only that often we want our own choices to be validated and to be “right”. It seems that too often, women compare themselves to other women and if they see “success” occurring from choices that are different than their own, they either get defensive or they wonder if they’re the one in the wrong, b/c of course Choice A and Choice B can’t both be right. All this is broad generalizations of course and not meant to offend anyone who’s happy with their choices and who never compares themselves to others.

    p.s. I like the yada-yada part too :) Whenever my husband tells me I’m wonderful, I always want to know why!

  38. steph – It’s a bit dangerous to pull out the generic “The day the Brethren [perform some pre-qualifying action] is the day I [perform some action based on their counsel]” card, don’t you think?

  39. steph,

    Forget the brethren. Talk to their wives.

  40. Mark IV says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your comments so far, and props to all for keeping things below the boiling point.

    The original post speculated that maybe somebody who didn’t come from our North American culture, but who is nonetheless a faithful latter-day saint, might have a different perspective on the issue of moms working for pay. As Rosalynde noted, my experience is only anecdotal, but it seems clear to me that for millions of members in various parts of the world, the debate about whether mom should work for pay is like debating whether to build a 5 car garage. That is to say, it is so far out of the question that it is laughable. And I expect the number of members in that situation will continue to increase. I believe we norteamericanos must find ways to transfer the ideas of love of family and the value of children to those members in ways they can understand and practice. Otherwise, we will become increasingly irrelevant.

    Julie, I went back and read the entire article. The study was conducted with questionaires that young people filled out and mailed back, so I doubt that it had the kind of detail you are looking for. My guess is there was just a box to check – Did your mother work outside the home, yes/no. That study, and every other one that I’m aware of, tells us that family prayer, FHE, and personal gospel study as a teen are important predictors of future church activity. It also says that whether mom works for pay is not an important predictor. I will confess that I found that surprising.

  41. Kristine says:

    “So what? I’m not in it for the sociology (which I agree is mixed); I’m in it because of the theology.”

    Really? You don’t care at all about the sociological outcomes? You’d really stay home if you were sure based on all the available evidence that it was worse for your kids?

    I’m not criticizing, just incredulous. My motives for being home are decidedly less pure than it sounds like yours are.

  42. Naismith says:

    The original post speculated that maybe somebody who didn’t come from our North American culture, but who is nonetheless a faithful latter-day saint, might have a different perspective on the issue of moms working for pay.

    I think this is true, and I’ve made the observation myself, having joined the church in Europe and also lived in South America.

    But I don’t agree with your reasoning about it being laughable, etc. In South America, women often brought their children to work with them. In every little shop, there was typically a playpen behind the counter. So women could work for pay without having to put their children in daycare, as is more typical in the US.

    Also, extended family plays a crucial role in other cultures. In most Hispanic countries, the clan matriarch weilds the most power of anyone. And these extended families also provide a safety net to help with childcare, etc. so that babies don’t go to stranger-run commercial daycare.

    Also, Europeans have extended maternal leave policies, quite often allowing a year of paid leave and sometimes guaranteeing return to a job for up to five years.

    I don’t think that norte americano moms are irrelevant; they are doing the best they can given their circumstances.

    I totally agree that the focus should be on the children, and how they are being taught and raised. This is what I have heard in General Conference in the years I have been a member. President Benson’s talk, which Rosalynde cited as being so important to her life decisions, was not given to the entire church; it was a special fireside address broadcast only in North America.

  43. Naismith says:

    Naismith, obviously I was using “work” as shorthand for employment outside the home. I of course didn’t mean to convey any sort of nuance to the effect that SAHMs don’t actually do any “work,” and I apologize if that is the sense you took from my words.

    This kind of “shorthand” may seem obvious and innocuous, but I believe it is at the heart of the mommy tax described in Ann Crittenden’s book THE PRICE OF MOTHERHOOD, which is being discussed next week on FMH.

    When I returned to the workplace after nine years, I was not penalized because the people who hired me saw my years at home as a line on my resume, not a blank. They wanted the triage and people management skills that I had developed during those years. In short, they saw me as “working,” and so my returning salary was what it probably would have been without the gap.

    So let’s not pretend that the words don’t matter. A mother who works for pay is an “employed mom.” Most of us are working mothers.

  44. Julie M. Smith says:

    Kristine,

    If the sociologists were universal in condemning the SAHM and the Church were universal in promoting it, I would still be at home.

  45. “A sister may finally come to see why we stress the importance of mothers staying at home with their children. She understands that no service equals the exalting refinement which comes through unselfish motherhood. Nor does she need to forgo intellectual or cultural or social refinement. Those things are fitted in—in proper time—for they attend the everlasting virtue which comes from teaching children.”

    This is especially interesting as I am about to start a short stint as a full-time, SAHD. Bring on the exalted refinement! Make way for everlasting virtue! (Or is it only for women?)

  46. Mark IV says:

    Norbert,

    I know two men who are SAHDs, and have been for years. Here’s the funny thing – they are both serving in the church right now as bishops. May your exalted refinement and everlasting virtue, if only for a short stint, not lead you to the same fate.

  47. jothegrill says:

    There has been a comment about successful parenting being defined as having children who have testimonies and get married in the temple and all that, but successful parenting is really about your children knowing that they are loved. Let me share 2 stories with you.
    My mother got married at 19 and had her first child before she turned 20. She is incredibly bright and talented. She has made a wonderful teacher to several homeschooled students. She has made a world of difference to these children, some of whom are my younger siblings. She would not have be able to do this had she been employed outside the home. But at this point in her life she has chosen to stay home, even though my parents are in debt and it drives her crazy to be in debt.
    Much earlier in her life, when I was born, my mother didn’t want to go back to work. She felt strongly that she should stay home with her 3 children, but she also felt pressure to provide for her children things like dance and piano lessons and to provide cultural and educational opportunities for them. So she went back to work, and put aside her longing to stay with her children as a sign of weakness. Throughout my childhood she worked and tried to finish her degree and be involved with us in girl scouting. She was stressed out most of the time, and I grew up believing that she didn’t love me, that she kept me around to do chores. I was depressed and I attempted suicide when I was 10 years old. My older sister saved me. That was a huge turning point for my mom. She quit her job, stopped trying to go to school, and just focused on her children. It wasn’t the end of all our troubles, but that probably saved my life and I am amazed by the difference between my younger siblings and their experiences and my older siblings and I. She wishes that she’d had the courage to go with her feelings.

    I have another story. My mother-in-law stayed at home and lived on next-to-nothing. She went dumpster diving for fabric so she could make clothes for her 8 children. When her children were older she started doing day care in her home. 3 of her children have formally left the church. But they know that they are loved. They come to as many family gatherings as they can, and we all have a great time together, they are respectful and kind and all around wonderful people. They’ve had a rough road too. They’re mother was busy, and sometimes stressed out I’m sure.

    I guess what I’m getting at is that you need to focus on your children, make sure they know that they are loved. Pay attention to them. Also, go with your instincts, if you feel you should stay home, do it. If you feel that it would best serve your children to have you be employed outside the home, do it. These are things that should be prayerfully considered with your spouse and your children. (Considered means that it is actually an option.)

  48. jothegrill says:

    Also, Hooray for stay at home dads. Way to go guys!

  49. Naismith says:

    If the sociologists were universal in condemning the SAHM and the Church were universal in promoting it, I would still be at home.

    Julie, I don’t mean to sound critical, but I’m genuinely confused at how you think your life is so very different from a mom who is employed part-time. In other posts, you’ve explained that you teach an adult institute class for your stake. Would it make a difference to your children if you were paid for that effort? How would the impact on your children be so very different if you were teaching one class a week for pay at a university rather than for love at church?

    In your FMH Day in the Life post, you mentioned that every evening from 6-8 p.m., you have personal time for work and study while your husband watches the kids (something that turned lots of us green with envy), and then you do more after they have gone to bed. So how is that so very different for your children than for the children of employed moms like me, whose husband watched the kids in the evening?

    I think this speaks to the point raised in the original essay and in comment #16. I am not seeing a huge difference in impact on the kids from maternal employment per se. I may be missing something, but I don’t see how you are spending more time with your children than I did when I was employed part-time with three children.

    The only difference I see is that people who wanted to criticize me for “ignoring the prophet” by wokring for pay had fuel to do so.

  50. Julie M. Smith says:

    Naismith, I think you may be reading into my words something I’ve never intended. I don’t think my life is at all different than a mother who is employed part time. I don’t believe part-time maternal employment (paid or volunteer) necessarily harms children (the sociology angle) or is contrary to church teachings (the theology angle). I don’t think we disagree on anything here.

  51. Rosalynde says:

    Mark wrote, “[I]t seems clear to me that for millions of members in various parts of the world, the debate about whether mom should work for pay is like debating whether to build a 5 car garage. That is to say, it is so far out of the question that it is laughable.”

    Mark, with respect, the labor statistics I cited suggest precisely the opposite of your presumption here: mothers with fewer means and advantages actually work LESS than mothers with more. As I said, mothers’ time at home is not, in fact, a privilege of the advantaged classes, but rather a reality of the disadvantaged. As you point out, the demographics may look different in developing countries—as will attitudes toward gender roles, which, frankly, are virtually certain to be MORE traditional than north american attitudes. For these reasons, I don’t think the labor patterns of Filipinas or Mexicanas, interesting as they are in their own right, provide any special insight into the choices facing north american women—much less any kind of social solvent for the persistent antagonisms.

  52. Rosalynde,

    Do those studies get to the bottom of *why* women at various levels of privilege work for pay? It could be that the vast majority of disadvantaged women who work outside of the home feel compelled to do so. And if so, that number (compelled workers) might greatly outweigh that among the advantaged inspite of the general numbers.

  53. Mark IV says:

    Rosalynde,

    I’ve read the article you linked three times now, and I think it is very insightful. I agree with most of its conclusions, too, so I’ve had to try to account for our differences. I think the article admits some its own limitations in the third to last paragraph:

    …our societies place no financial value on the activities that take place within the home.

    and,

    …For the economist, unpaid work does not contribute to GNP and so does not exist.

    The study accounts only for the women who work for a paycheck and get a W-2 at the end of the year. It does NOT consider women in developing areas who contribute to the family income through their labor in farming or piece-rate sewing, for example, and I believe that would include just about all of them. In the same way, a woman in the U.S. who runs an in-home child care business might be completely under the radar, because she isn’t on anybody’s payroll. And even though she is at home, she might be less available to her own children than a woman who works part-time outside the home. To sum up, I think your article contains accurate information and some really good analysis, as far as it goes. But it does not attempt to consider the value of women’s agricultural labor and the economic activity they generate through home businesses, and those are the most likely occupations for a woman in a developing area.

    Your point about traditional attitudes regarding gender roles is a good one. Doesn’t the traditional attitude in developing economies hold that the woman is responsible for the children, the house, the 10 acre corn patch, 30 laying hens, and 6 dairy goats? She is absolutely expected to contribute in a material way to the financial well-being of the family. Again, she won’t get a paycheck for any of that work, so it doesn’t show up in bureau of labor statistics.

  54. Mary S. says:

    I am so grateful my mother worked outside the home.
    I had to learn housekeeping skills that I’d need later on in life. And because she worked, I went to college and didn’t have to work my way through.
    I was always close to my mom and never felt neglected, unloved or that she wasn’t a good mom because she wasn’t home when I came home from school. My life was better because she worked outside our home. Everything she did, she did for me and I always knew and appreciated that. I saw her employment outside of the home as a sacrifice she made for ME. She could have stayed at home. She chose to work so her child would have a better life and I’m eternally grateful to her. It’s been a blessing to me and even to my own child with money from Grandma for college.

  55. Naismith says:

    In the same way, a woman in the U.S. who runs an in-home child care business might be completely under the radar, because she isn’t on anybody’s payroll.

    This would not happen in the US. Those monthly figures on employment and unemployment come from a monthly household survey conducted by the Census Bureau, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are the source of much of the data in Ann Crittenden’s book as well.

    For the purposes of the Current Population Survey, someone is considered employed if they work even one hour for pay, or work unpaid at a family business. So the farm wife who drives the tractor is considered employed, as is the woman who braids hair in her home and the mother who answers the phone for her husband’s construction company.

    I remember one mother who resented being classified as “employed,” when she had made a thoughtful and painful decision to be at home with her children. But she tutored a few hours a week and thus was considered “employed.”

  56. So, Mark Brown, does their sons’ incarceration rate and their daughters’ rate of pregnancy out of wedlock, in comparison to national norms, have any bearing on what we have to learn from these employed Hispanic immigrant mothers? The futures of some aren’t so bright.

  57. Mark IV says:

    John,

    Aren’t the rates of incarceration and illegitimate births tied very directly to the absence of a father in the lives of the young men and young women? Can you, or anybody else, show me where anybody has studied healthy families and demonstrated that mom’s paycheck was the cause of the children’s delinquency? And the church’s research I cited would indicate that, all else being equal, the question of whether the mother is employed has little to do with the future success of her children.

    I’ll point out again – we belong to a church that makes micro-credit loans to women precisely so that they CAN work for money. If a temple recommend holding Filipina were to leave her (church-financed) noodle-making business tomorrow and come to my ward and interview ten random women about their attitudes regarding working for money, she would get responses from all over the map. I think it would be difficult for her to understand the guilt, and the deeply held feelings of right and wrong.

  58. I think you–and about 90% of the “I can’t stay home” crowd–are just plain wrong.

    Clearly, the wars are still raging. Enough with the judgement already! We (women!) must, must, must learn to trust each others’ ability to make individual choices!

    I was home for five years. I’m now working full time. I know I’m doing the right thing.

    Thankfully, I’ve found nothing but support among my real-life friends.

  59. Kristine says:

    Mark, John–incarceration rates and pregnancy rates are tied even more directly to poverty and lousy schools than they are to either mother’s employment or father’s absence.

  60. Julie M. Smith says:

    Ana, if she had said that they are “just plain wrong” to be working, I would agree with you. But she said that they are “just plain wrong” to think that they can’t afford to stay at home–and that’s an entirely different issue. And, given the rampant consumerism in our society, one issue where I think women (anyone, really) should be willing to call other women (anyone, really) onto the carpet for succumbing to the hype.

  61. Kristine, immigrants come from more impoverished conditions and have lower education than their American-born children, yet the immigrants have very low levels of incarceration while their sons are jailed at twice the national average. I can see a point to what you and Mark are saying, though. Living under bad conditions, there are bigger factors at play than maternal employment.

  62. Mark IV says:

    Julie,

    That’s a good point, but it isn’t the point the individual in question was making. She has revealed, elsewhere in the bloggernacle, that she runs a home-based business.

  63. Kristine says:

    Julie, I think the notion that many middle class women work for materialistic reasons is unfair–have you read Elizabeth Warren’s work, which suggests that women are working largely to afford housing in decent school districts? Given that real wages have fallen steadily over the last several decades, it is unfair to expect that the calculus for women working would really be the same as it was in the 50s and 60s, or even in 1987 when President Benson delivered his screed against secretaries and waitresses.

  64. While the economic statement is correct, your summary of Pres. Benson’s talk, Kristine, is a horrible description – a true butcher job – of what he actually said.

  65. Kristine says:

    Ray, I wasn’t offering a summary. The work he mentioned included waitressing and secretarial work, and he was quite negative about it.

  66. Natasha says:

    Okay, I am staying out of this one for my own mental health, but I want to point out how quickly on this issue people go from righteous attitudes to self-righteous ones.

    Maybe we all love our kids so much that we have to believe that whatever we have sacrificed and chosen for them is Right. But that doesn’t mean we have to assume that what we haven’t chosen for them is Wrong.

    Surely, personal revelation and individual circumstances can lead to distinct choices.

  67. Julie M. Smith says:

    Kristine, I never suggested that X% of women were working for financial reasons. I was simply agreeing with the comment that a large number of LDS women who claim to work “because they have to” should call a spade a spade and say “because they have to in order to support the lifestyle they want.” Those are entirely separate things.

  68. Kristine says:

    Julie, even in that modified form, I’d be interested in anyone being able to produce some empirical support for that claim. I’m skeptical.

  69. Julie M. Smith says:

    Kristine, I can assure you that your skepticism is matched by mine; we’ll need to call this a draw until someone procures the evidence that their family will literally go hungry without their income.

    Culturally, we are light years from remembering the difference between a want (cel phones, air conditioning, a second car, cheese, paper towels, new clothing, meals in restaurants) and a need. As someone who survived years without being able to afford any of the ‘wants’ I listed, I’ll freely admit that I’m not oozing sympathy. While I don’t doubt that there are a few working, married LDS women out there who are literally putting food on the table, they are, in my experience, very few and very far between. The rest are supporting a lifestyle. They aren’t necessarily wrong to be doing that, but let’s call a spade a spade.

  70. Kristine says:

    Julie, I know LOTS of Mormon women who work and still don’t have any of the wants you listed, and LOTS who freely admit that they work because they like their jobs. I don’t know any who say they have to work, but are really just fueling their consumerism. I’m sure some such women exist; I just don’t know them. I’m therefore skeptical that their numbers are as large as you (and a good deal of shaming official rhetoric) suggest.

  71. Rosalynde says:

    “we belong to a church that makes micro-credit loans to women precisely so that they CAN work for money.”

    Mark, once again I think you’re pursuing a red herring. The church has a lot invested in mothers being “primarily responsible for the nurture of their children”—parse that how you will; there are two plausible readings, depending on what one believes “primarily” should modify—and, as many folks have pointed out, in lots of situations mothers work AND care for their children simultaneously. I don’t think even the most doctrinaire traditionalist would object to this (maybe I’m wrong). But for ordinary American women, it’s much more difficult to be the primary caregiver for one’s small children and hold down a full-time job simultaneously; thus the conflict. So I’m not sure what the point about Filipinas’ home-businesses has to do with Sister Jones’ employment patterns.

  72. Julie M. Smith says:

    “I don’t know any who say they have to work, but are really just fueling their consumerism.”

    I do–enough that I feel just as justified as you do in capitalizing LOTS. That’s why I suggested that we call it a draw.

  73. Natasha says:

    Just a quick thanks to Kristine for sticking up for us moms who are working to pay the bills [and who even like what we do even though we need to do it].

    Julie, you may not be “oozing sympathy”, which is okay, but a little tolerance would be nice [even online, because I bet in person you are a little less rigid about people.

  74. Julie M. Smith says:

    And, Rosalynde, at the risk of dragging you into my conversation with Kristine, I think a Filipina mother might actually have to work in the sense that her children will go hungry and/or homeless if she doesn’t–a prospect rarely on the radar for the majority of employed American LDS mothers. I think the Brethren know their Maslow as well as the next guy, and it would be foolish to think a mother could best nurture a hungry, homeless child by cuddling and storytime instead of earning money for food and shelter. For her, gainful employment is the best kind of nurturing she can do.

  75. Julie M. Smith says:

    I’m sorry, Natasha, I don’t think tolerance includes encouraging people to lie about their situation. Again, I’m not claiming that a woman in this situation is *wrong* to work, but simply that she should be honest with herself and others: “I am working to sustain our lifestyle” is an entirely different animal than “I am working because I have to” and we don’t do anyone (save perhaps the engine of American capitalism) any good to pretend otherwise.

  76. kristine N says:

    Okay, I’m reading the article Rosalynde linked to early on (finally) and it’s kinda ticking me off. I’m finding it obnoxiously nostalgic for a time when women had only a few choices when it came to a career.

    If the able women of 70 or 100 years ago entered classrooms and hospital wards merely because nothing else was available, they would have brought little commitment to their work, and greater choice would clearly have benefited them and society alike.

    What kind of crap is this? If you don’t have a choice in your job, you won’t be committed? First off, people who take pride in their work will work hard at *every* job, not just the ones they “choose.” Indeed, that’s what makes a good employee–someone who works hard even on the unavoidable portions of the job that suck. Second, there is plenty of diversity within the service fields for a woman to find something she loves and is willing to put her heart into. Most people are rather capable of finding happiness in many occupations, not just one or a very few, as this statement seems to imply.

  77. Kristine says:

    Julie, “lie”? I think it’s pretty dangerous to get into the business of deciding for other people what constitutes a righteous lifestyle and what is an extravagance.

    Just one personal example: I’m sure that you, and virtually everyone else, would regard private school tuition as a luxury (and a damnably elitist one at that). I would too, except that I feel as confident that God wants my oldest child in the school he’s in as I have ever felt about any decision in my life. Indeed, it’s one of exactly two absolutely undeniable spiritual confirmations I’ve received in my life. From the outside, anyone would say that I was crazy/unrighteous/selfish/elitist/damned for working to afford tuition. I know it’s the right thing to do.

    I’ve no doubt that there are women (and their husbands along with them) who are misled by our culture’s materialism. I am far less confident of my ability to pass judgment on them than you seem to be.

  78. Julie M. Smith says:

    Kristine,

    I’m not sure how I can say this more clearly: I believe that the vast majority of American LDS women who say that they “have to work” are lying to themselves and/or deluded about the meaning of the phrase “have to.” What they should say is that they “have chosen to work to support the lifestyle that they want.” Again, I don’t know that they are wrong to work or wrong to have chosen that lifestyle. I wouldn’t even necessarily doubt that a burning bush told them to put their kid in private school. But they still don’t “have” to work in the food-and-shelter sense.

    I don’t think trying to draw a line between “necessary” and “extravagent” is dangerous business–in the abstract, on a blog. In real life, I smile politely when a woman tells me that she “has to” work (because she has decided that her family “has to” buy a home in San Francisco) or “has to” work (when she and her husband drive new cars and live in a large home) or “has to” work (when her daughter takes a private art class). (All real examples.) In real life, I’m so #(&% polite and non-judgmental that you wouldn’t recognize me–all because I believe that people really do have individual circumstances and inspiration that I don’t know about. But when we are having an abstract discussion on a blog, I think it is worth remembering that, culturally, we haven’t a clue about the difference between need and want–a fact that I believe is reflected in work patterns among LDS women if we believe (and I do) that the counsel coming from Church leaders is relevant.

  79. Steve Evans says:

    Julie: “I believe that the vast majority of American LDS women who say that they “have to work” are lying to themselves and/or deluded about the meaning of the phrase “have to.”

    I presume you’re not talking about single moms — correct?

  80. Steve,

    LDS women aren’t single moms, because LDS women don’t have sex before marriage.

  81. Steve Evans says:

    my bad.

  82. I am assuming that Steve meant single as in divorced or widowed.

  83. Steve Evans says:

    How about instead of single, “available”?

  84. Julie M. Smith says:

    Steve, of course I’m not talking about single, divorced, widowed, or married-to-men-who-for-whatever-reason-can’t-work husbands.

  85. HP,

    Nope. LDS women don’t divorce; and as for widows, you’re clearly forgetting the bulletproof garments. Do I have to explain everything?

    Steve,

    Haven’t you read “In Sacred Loneliness”? In this religion, buddy, they’re _all_ “available” to the right asker.

  86. Steve Evans says:

    Kaimi, I stand corrected. You’d make a helluva institute teacher.

    Julie — thanks. I’d assumed as much, just wanted to make it explicit. I think your conclusions are a bit problematic even with the clarification, but I think I can understand what you’re getting at. I’d just say that the concept of what is “necessary” in Western culture is already problematic, and I’m not sure where you draw the line between “horribly inconvenient” and “necessary.”

  87. Julie M. Smith says:

    “I’m not sure where you draw the line between “horribly inconvenient” and “necessary.”

    I’ll admit that that is a difficult distinction to make. However, I think that we are pretty far past that line in cultural (even LDS cultural) expectations–to the point where preschool, soccer teams for 4 year olds, a second car, cel phones, brand new clothing, cable, a home computer, etc., fall into the current cultural norm for “necessary.”

  88. Steve Evans says:

    Julie, I agree; it’s pretty murky territory. I imagine that this murkiness is part of the reason why decisions like these are so frequently a matter of personal choice and inspiration. I wonder, though, at what point it becomes unfair to label a given choice as “unnecessary.” I suppose if we’re talking about the pyramid of civilization (or whatever that old chestnut is called, with “survival” at the bottom”), then anything beyond essential food, water and shelter is unnecessary. But I have a feeling that’s not what you’re using as your operating definition of “necessary” — rather, I’d guess that it’s somewhere in-between raw subsistence and the 2nd car/digital cable lifestyle.

    To what extent is such line-drawing a personal choice? And, if it becomes a personal choice, shouldn’t the attendant decision-making — being a SAHM or going to work — also be a personal choice, beyond our external judgment?

  89. Kristine says:

    Julie, you may well be right; I just don’t think you have enough data to make such a sweeping assertion.

    My experience in the church is very different than yours–but I’ve spent much of my married life in wards with substantial numbers of working class members who don’t even have most of the things you list on their tally sheet ofwants. Hard to say whose experience is “typical.”

  90. Julie M. Smith says:

    Steve, of course it is a personal choice. Again: I’m not suggesting that a woman is wrong to work for any of the wants that I’ve listed–I’m just saying that she (and her defenders) should stop saying that she “has to” work. I’m not judging the choice to work–I’m judging the choice to name the work is *necessary*. There’s been a lot of accusations back and forth about elitism and privilege on this thread, and I’m just trying to point out another one: pretending that a middle class life style is “necessary.”

  91. Steve Evans says:

    ok, fair enough, but that’s more an indictment of priorities in Western culture than of choices re: SAHMs, I think.

  92. Julie M. Smith says:

    Steve,

    On that, we definitely agree.

  93. StillConfused says:

    I remember distinctly asking my son if he would rather I not work and stay home with him like other kids in the neighborhood. His answer was “No way Mom. I don’t want you to be crazy like those other moms.” I let him know that if he or his sister wanted me to quit, I would. They never did. So I think you just have to go with what is right for your family. And you shouldn’t attempt to determine what is best for other families. Some families just roll differently.

  94. I have to agree with Julie that as American’s we are pretty well off and the statement “have” to work is overused. I work full time now, but when I was a sahm, for 5 years we had no cable, a used 12″ tv set, no restaurants, no pizza (unless I made it from scratch), no new clothes, no internet at home, no computer printer, no cell phones, no vacations, no 2nd car. I walked everywhere. Presents were from the “dollar” store or a warehouse that was even cheaper! My part time jobs were ones where I took the kids with me. No one could believe we could survive on HALF a teacher’s salary in Japan. (Why half? Because the other half we sent home to pay our Calif. mortgage). My home teachers asked me why didn’t I just get internet – it was only about $30 a month. I told them that that was $360 a year, more than we spent on clothing and shoes for our whole family! Their jaws dropped.

    When the kids started school, I started working (it helps that they go to school wherever I teach). Why did I start working? Did I have to? No, it was because I was tired of being poor!! I wanted to go on a vacation again! I wanted to shop at Hanna Andersson’s! I wanted pizza! I’m not sorry I’m working, (even though my 7 year old wants to know why I don’t do all the crafts and activities with her that she reads about in “Family Fun” magazine), but I am realistic. I know that if I were willing to give up what most people consider necessities, I could stay at home again.

    My mom raised me as a single mom, and she HAD to work. I don’t. I just want to.

  95. Melinda says:

    Is health insurance a necessity? I know a woman who works because her job is the one that comes with benefits. Her husband has been unable to find a job with a company, and so is self-employed. He could earn enough to pay their living expenses, but he doesn’t have health insurance because he’s self-employed. The insurance plans available to the self-employed won’t cover my friend because of her wacky health problems. She’s officially uninsurable except for a big company. Paying her medical bills out of pocket would wipe them out.

    Health insurance isn’t exactly food and shelter. Is it a luxury or a necessity? They could cover the kids on a welfare plan, and dad could get coverage through one of the plans available to the self-employed. My friend holds a job solely so she can go to the doctor. Her problems aren’t life-threatening, but they do cause significant pain if not treated.

  96. I think that women who say they “need” or “have to” work are well within the definitions–as well as the commonly understood meanings–of those terms, even when they are not referring to providing only the barest necessities. (Compare meaning number 2 of “need” below with meaning number 4.)

    I only looked this up because when I hear someone say she has to work, I don’t usually assume it is for basic food items. I assume the reasons are broader, including educational opportunities, a reliable car, a safe neighborhood, or any number of other reasons the family has decided are sufficiently important. I wasn’t sure if my understanding of the term was completely off the mark, so I looked it up. I think this understanding actually fits well with a “need” being something “desirable” or “useful”, as well as addressing psychological needs.

    In short, women using this terminology aren’t really misusing it.

    From Webster’s:
    Main Entry: 1need
    1 : necessary duty : OBLIGATION
    2 a : a lack of something requisite, desirable, or useful b : a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism
    3 : a condition requiring supply or relief
    4 : lack of the means of subsistence : POVERTY

    And
    Main Entry: 1have
    2 : to feel obligation in regard to — usually used with an infinitive with to

  97. “I love my mother and she was wonderful. The End.”

    Jab (#28), I sincerely hope that one day, this is the highest praise my children will have for me.

  98. Allegory says:

    Alison

    Maybe you prefer the temple ceremony that way it used to be [edited].

  99. Yikes, Allegory. I passed over the tone of the other comments, because I agreed with the overall message of one of them, but this one . . .

  100. Allegory, quoting from the endowment ceremony here isn’t kosher.

  101. Moving back to the point—
    I’d just like to add that I’d classify a lot of Mormons as being the sneakiest class-shifters you’d ever meet. Mormons are notorious for appearing to live a class above where they are. Thriftiness, always thriftiness. So, while I agree with Julie, I’d put the caveat in that you can’t tell whether someone (especially a Mormon) “has to”–even if you see them do or have a lot that poor folk usually don’t.

  102. As one of those notoriously sneaky people, “Thank you,” – I think . . .

  103. I’ve no doubt that there are women (and their husbands along with them) who are misled by our culture’s materialism. I am far less confident of my ability to pass judgment on them than you seem to be.

    Amen, Kristine.

    Julie, I think your reasons for using words like “lying” are just wrong. That is exactly what I mean when I say that we shouldn’t pass judgment on others choices. You are doing so indirectly by claiming that you “know” they are lying when they justify their choice by saying they “have to.” The fact is that you don’t “know” that. Your assertion is buttressed by a whole lot of unwarranted assumptions about people and their lives. Give it up.

  104. This is a link for Eric. Read the section on Elder Wood’s talk under the Family Proclamation. http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2003_02_25_Wood.htm
    There are dozens of talks like this where moms are guilted into staying at home. For me it is not even about money. I need the mental stimulation. I work as an 80% teacher… I need the intellectual contact. A bit further in the talk is President Benson’s famous quote clarifying a woman’s choice is already decided for her. If you are a working mom, you pick up on all of this. Statements like this are in talks, devotionals, and the nuances of Mormon conversations all of the time. Many imply that it is about selfish materialism as a reason for our employment. I am always disturbed that it is assumed that this is the motivation.. that we would have other motives besides money to work outside the home. … or that men would stay home if they didn’t have to earn money. We all know that we need more… and it cheapens the role of women to say she deserves less.

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