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A Career Vs. Being a Mom

I received this thought provoking letter in an email from a pastor friend, and then asked for comments from other women on the topic. In the interests of a free discussion, several viewpoints are presented. I would like to say that this is a very important topic for each family to decide before God for themselves.

Original Message
From: Steve Perdue
To: An Occassional Dose
Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 1999 1:32 PM
Subject: Want to respond - simply reply


 The following letter written to Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is one mother's perspective on the problem:

December 13, 1995

Dear Dr. Dobson,

Recently you broadcasted a show on working mothers. I believe it was a repeat. While this particular time I was not able to listen to the whole show, one point was mentioned that I would like to address. It was the mention of those who both blatantly and subtly make these women feel guilty. I, Dr. Dobson am one of those people. I hope you will take a moment and read my letter and someday address the issues I now raise.

I am a full-time 44 yr. old mother of 8. I am at home not because I am "lucky" or because my husband makes a good salary, I am at home because of the Word of God that tells me that my children are to be my priority, that He will provide our needs and because it is the responsibility of my husband and I to train our children in His Ways! My life verse is Titus 2:3-5. I take the role as woman that God has given me quite seriously. I consider myself a "watcher", one who tries to stand back and access what is going on in our world.

Do you recall the story of the "Emperor's New Clothes"? The story tells of an emperor so vain he buys clothes that only those who are fit for his position can see. So he walks about naked for none wanted to be thought unfit or a fool. It is a child who points out the truth and the foolishness of the adults around him. Today people conduct themselves based on the "political correctness" of what the world says this particular day. Are not the children of today by their actions pointing a finger at our foolishness?

The feminist movement devalued children by legalizing abortion, then it further devaluated the children by causing women to believe that child-rearing was not as important as a career or a money making job. Mothers going out to work began not as necessity but as rebellion to their role! "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." - Gen 3:6 (NASB)

Dr. Dobson where were and where are the men today? Why did they not value their wives and children? As Christian men where was their commitment to God and His Word, or was the lure of "more" the same as that bite of the apple? We are so ingrained in vanity as not to want to stand against what is wrong but to be thought acceptable. Why don't the men reaffirm their wives in the importance of their role as wife and mother? Why are men never interviewed as to why their wives are out of the home?

God created a need in men to be the protector and the provider of the family, yet today, as Adam bit knowingly, men have abdicated that role. Is that why many men have left the family for they are not "needed"? Women have a need to be protected and provided for. Is that why many will leave their husbands for they are now fulfilling all their needs themselves? Feelings come and go! What about the concept of living within one's means? Not only are women working full-time but many are working two jobs. Why? Because there is always more! Besides there is a feeling that providing toys and clothes etc. makes one a good parent. When one lived within their means, it was the means of the husband. It can be done! Not only is my family proof of God's blessings, even undeserved for we have not been wise with His provision. But He has provided and though we may even run late or behind on a bill, He has always seen us through! One family I know had been willing to live in a one room house as it took years to shape up to become a two bedroom home. This is because the father put the priority on the mother to be with the children, not on a house! "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." - Luke 16:13 (NASB)

Dr. Dobson, something has to be sacrificed. Today to our shame not even the church takes a strong stand on this. Very few churches will stress the importance of the parents, (with the mother at home) raising their own children! One woman on your show was working to help her husband obtain his doctorate. Was this piece of paper worth the heartache and disruption of his family? In retrospect was it worth it? Did he go first with the Lord with this decision? The Lord raises those He chooses, His way. I have been taught these guidelines for decision making: Am I putting God's desire ahead of my own? Will it help me to love God and others more? How does this action relate to my personal involvement in fulfilling Christ's Great commission? Am I providing a good witness to others? Will this help me lead a more holy life? Have I sought His Word on it in the Bible? Have I prayed? Have I sought counsel from a mature Christian? Have I honestly answered all these questions honestly?!

Dr. Dobson, what about our witness to the world? Today we fight a political system that wants and is taking our rights away. We gave them away when the men and the women of the church followed the ways of the world. It is given to the parents to train up their children, it is to the parent's shame when they abdicate their roles! "A foolish son is a grief to his father, And bitterness to her who bore him." - Prov 17:25 (NASB)

"And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." - (Deu 6:6-7) Children learn by example. Children value others as they are valued and those around them. The feminist statement that the husband and the children have to understand the mother's need has produced a totally selfish generation! Children are not taught their value as they are hustled off to a sitter or a caregiver before they can understand . New parents rejoice in their new baby, but then when the child is barely a month or more old, the attitude is "O.K. its time to get back to the "real world". And the child is place "on the shelf" till they want to take the time to dust them off and play with them. A second-hand mom is more acceptable than second-hand clothes! How many children today call others Mommy because theirs is not there! I have a friend who used to baby-sit and the kids cried when they had to go home. After all she was the one who loved and cared for them. God's love is action. (1Corinthians 13:4-8A) The children don't learn loyalty and commitment because if one sitter or caregiver fails or quits, they just move on to another! Does not the pre-school years prepare the adult to come?

Recently in a local newspaper, the Asbury Park Press (11-30-95), an editorial columnist, Mona Charen, wrote a column titled "Feminist movement paid a steep price." As she spoke of the feminist desire for government and business to provide for the children's care, she writes: "Friedan rejects the idea a mother must choose between work and raising her kids. That may get applause on college campuses, but it rings false to anyone who is actually at home with children. A woman holding down a demanding full-time job cannot also raise her kids. It is the person who is with them all day who decides what they will read and see, how well they handle anger. Caretakers instill, bit by bit, their moral codes, their manners and even their enthusiasms. That doesn't mean that a mother who works is irrelevant to her children - only that the major task of child-rearing has been subcontracted out".

Dr. Dobson, is Balaam's ass speaking to us? In 1Timothy 5:10 it lists the qualifications of a widow to be assisted. I have felt this is a good guideline for my work as a Christian woman. Not only expected to have "raised" children (not just given birth to) and to serve the saints. Today it is hard to have people commit to service in the church. Our service to the Lord is our whole life, not just a Sunday morning or a "good deed" here or there. There is a real lack of power, for people are not sold out to God, even those in full time service it is whatever is convenient. How many women once they have their children in school, look for a paying job instead of serving the elderly, a visit, a word of scripture, a prayer and a clean, dusted house, a harried new mom getting a hand from an older one, knowing she is experiencing what others have before her. Time to listen to a wounded friend or neighbor.. Where is the mom to listen to her children's day and correcting what is contrary to God's Word. To share the Gospel with others BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF THE FAMILY!

Dr. Dobson, I am not the perfect mother nor am I the perfect Christian. I know there are cases where either a single mom or a family may temporarily need two incomes. Larry Burkett has written a book on how to stay at home. Downsizing is occurring. But where is the church?!! Is the church teaching and encouraging our men and women to plan before they even plan to marry, to raise their children themselves. Our teens, especially our teens need a guiding presence! Where does the church honor the mother at home? One Mother's Day, the magazine "Today's Christian Woman" honored a woman who as they stated was chairman of the board and mother of "Sue". Remember what Mona Charen said above that the major task of child-rearing being sub-contracted out! What is the church teaching?!

To our shame many times it is the programs for children that are missing because we don't have the people. The church worries about it's adults being burnt out. There is no consistency in the witness. Our family has brought other children out only to have youth groups fizzle when those doing it burn out. Over the years we have not been able to send our children to a youth group that didn't fizzle out after just a year or so. We have even sent our children to other church youth groups when ours have failed. Where is our witness to our children about service to God! Where is our service to God when the lure of "more" causes more hours of work ? We sacrifice our service to the church!

The Proverbs woman is often used to give credence to the "two income family", but is the family today rising up and praising the woman? And when it does, is it for her godly witness or for her paycheck?

The Word of God is not always welcomed. Remember even Jesus spoke things that drove the religious leaders mad. I pray that I do display His love and am not a "clanging cymbal". I love my God, His Word, His people and His children. But when a woman comes and says I got a new job, I do not praise and usually say "Oh, what about your kids?" Or when at a Bible study I try to encourage women to find joy and fulfillment in serving God in their family or in service to Him. We need to teach and set examples for not only our young people, but even the world for it is God's love that makes us different. If we put the value and the responsibility back in the home, not in the government, God will be better served!

The "working mother" has taken many rights of the family away by demanding that the world take over her role as mother! If the mother at home does not use peer pressure she will become extinct. God has always valued obedience over gifts. We need to once again be radical Christians obeying God in opposition to the world.

Yours in the service of Jesus,

(Name withheld by request)


April 10, 1998

Focus on the Famiy's reply was worthy of any politician but not making a firm stand. In it FOF said they would not urge families to strive to have the woman at home as the Bible says (for they did not see it as a command of God). Plus they said it would only cause the women to have theological guilt heaped on them.

In a follow-up letter to Dr. Dobson, this mother wrote:

Dear Dr. Dobson,

I heard part of your program in the middle of the night. I was very happy that you are calling parents to task of their responsibility. I am head of the children's ministry in my church and have often said that we are there to "ASSIST!" NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF PARENTS! We are there to confirm their teachings not to do their job!

One thing grieves me. It is your fear of placing guilt. Guilt can be good if it brings to the person realization of the fact they have done something wrong. That is how and why sin is repented of. I have written in the past of the need to get back to God's Word and teach families that the mothers are commanded to raise their children not to subcontract or abdicate the role by placing their children into the care of another!

Guilt? Let's see what Dr. Ravenhill writes in his book Why Revival Tarries! ....Chapter Four


.....Brethren, if we will do God's work in God's way at God's time with God's power, we shall have God's blessing and the devil's curses. When God opens the windows of heaven to bless us, the devil will open the door of hell to blast us. God's smile means the devil's frown! Mere preachers may help anybody and hurt nobody; but prophets will stir everybody and madden somebody. The preacher may go *with* the crowd; the prophet goes *against* it. A man freed, fired, and filled with God will be branded unpatriotic because he speaks against his nation's sins; unkind because his tongue is a two-edged sword; unbalanced because the weight of preaching opinion is against him. The preacher will be heralded; the prophet hounded.

Ah! brother preachers, we love the old saints, missionaries, martyrs, reformers: our Luthers, Bunyans, Wesleys, Asburys, etc. We will write their biographies, reverence their memories, frame their epitaphs, and build their cenotaphs. We will do anything except imitate them. We cherish the last drop of their blood, but watch the first drop of our own!....."

Be the prophet that God has called you to be Dr. Dobson. The lives of His people and children are at stake. You, yourself said that the church alone can not do it. You said that values are caught not taught. Too often the children see the adults are hypocrites for God is for Sunday or church activities only. How can they know a personal God when they don't know their parents personally? After all, care-givers are interchangeable, does this not make the parent unnecessary, does this not make a god to our liking more reasonable? A god is the one who holds command of one's soul. Who is in command of the souls today?

The children today do not see the True God, for they see the god of money and prestige of America as the true god of their parents.

[No longer are Christians raising their own children but depending on others to do it for them in the quest of the American Dream and the "equality" of woman. The family has been devastated and many ministries have gone wanting for the people have put the world first and God somewhere else.]

In Jesus' Service,

(Name withheld by request)

My Reply 8/19/99

Dear Steve,
Thanks for a thought provoking letter. The only problem I had with it is its judgemental tone. I find that many women would be "stay at home moms" if they caught the vision and priviledge of motherhood, if their husbands (if present!!!) supported them and helped them in their decision, and if the community and church did so as well. It is my experience that many women work because they really have to - either the husband is not present, or his income truly does not meet the needs of the family. I'm in agreement with Dr. Dobson in not loading more guilt on women who are already in stressful situations!!!!!!!

Instead of broadly condemning women who work, we need to invest time and thought in finding ways to help them to want to stay at home. A home-based business is a wonderful way for a family to work together and build a family life (weren't most industries in Jesus' day home based?). Unfortunately, over regulation in my community has made this option very difficult for us. However, we are finding that the freedom and peacefulness of working at home far outweighs any financial benefits (and the stress) in working outside of our sanctuary!

We have an online ministry, which pays nothing :) and a computer training and consulting business We also are able to do web site design and graphics design.

For my thoughts on Motherhood and a career click on the following links. Feel free to share if you desire.

Love in Christ
Karleen Page

PS And it REALLY bothers me that this "mom" who is so adamant in her views won't sign her name to them! PLUS I would really like to hear Dr. Dobson's full reply in context, since this woman's letter is representing her views fully, his should be heard also.

From Tamala 8/18/99
Anyway, I have to agree that this thing is completely one-sided. In order to make any kind of judgement call, we'd need to see FOF's complete letter as well...

I am one who has made the commitment to stay home while my children are young. I plan to get a part-time job outside the home when my last child heads off to school. If I can get a job that will allow me to be home when the kids are. I believe that my kids are more secure and stable because of this decision. I have a good relationship with each one.

Although, I'm the last one to point fingers at anyone who needs to work and put their kids in a daycare. I feel that not all women really have much of a choice for various reasons as you have also stated. And, there are some women who do have that choice and still choose to work outside the home for her own sanity.

People are made different from each other. I have one friend with five kids and all she wants is to be with her kids all the time, and she can handle that. I have another friend with three kids who can only be with her kids for so long before she goes ballistic.

In conclusion, I'd say that it's neither right nor wrong for women to choose to work outside the home, or to stay home with the kids... It's all a matter of where God wants me to be at any given point in my life. If we're not seeking His will, but going off on our own feelings and circumstances, then we have a fifty-fifty chance of doing the right thing. We all need to be guided by the Holy Spirit for every decision we make.

From NurseGUY 8/19/99

Ok, you asked! I think women should stay at home to care for the children and "keep house", except in situations like mine where the wife just don't know how to keep house. It is so bad I cannot invite anyone over without asking my in-laws to help clean for a week before they arrive! Once a week on my day off I start on one end on the house throwing things closser to where they belong till everything is in their right room. I got my wife to work because she cannot keep house, Uh oh! She is home gotta go! LOL

From Barbara 8/25/99

Dear Karleen:
Thanks for sharing this letter with me. My quite lengthy reply follows......:) You have my permission to post my reply on your webpage if you desire, including my name......:)

While the writer raises some excellent points, I think that she is too quick to judge working women, and unfairly lumps them all into the same category as being selfish feminists. For the women who do work for the wrong reasons, I don't feel that heaping guilt on them is the way to change lives. Jesus gave the best example of all in His dealing with the woman at the well. He did not have to resort to finger pointing and condemnation to bring about repentance in her. He spoke the truth in love. The writer states she is a full time mother of 8. Surely she has much more productive things to do with her time than to condemn and judge people that she doesn't even know. I feel I have nothing to repent of by being a working mother. My children are no less a priority to me than her children are to her. The Bible tells us that we do not have to defend ourselves to anyone, but if I am to be judged so harshly by my non-working sisters in the Lord, I feel it important for them to know just what situation they are passing judgement on.

I have been a working mother since I was 21 years old. I was married once before, and my first husband went to prison when I was 5 months pregnant with my oldest child. The sitter I left her with was my best friend's mother, almost like leaving her with my own mother. I was not saved, and as confused as I was in my life at that time, I feel that she did a terrific job with my daughter, probably better than I could have.

I became a Christian, remarried and had a second child 3 years later. My husband worked 12-hour days, 6 days a week, and I still worked to provide much needed medical insurance for the family, as my husband was self employed. Our children were left in the care of Christian families. They always had access to us by phone, and my husband and I both did not hesitate to leave work to take care of their needs if necessary. Our children always came first. Sometimes my husband would take them to work with him if need be.

About 6 years ago, I was able to be a stay home and homeschool mom for 2 years, and then circumstances changed our situation. My husband was diagnosed with a chronic illness that caused him to not be able to work anymore. It is in remission right now but could return at any time, and it is something he could eventually die from if he doesn't take care of himself. I went back to school and got a job that would allow me to set my own hours. This was a family decision, with everyone including my kids being in agreement. Had there been one family member who was not comfortable with it, we would have continued to plug along the way we were.

My husband has always been hard working, and while he is still able to bring some income in to the family, it is difficult for him to accept not being the primary source of support. He now assumes more of the household responsibilities, including being there for the kids. This is a situation that we can all live with, including the kids. My husband is also an evangelist, a job for which he is a volunteer and receives no pay. When he is gone, my work schedule is adjusted to where I can be home when the kids are home. I count it a blessing to be able to financially support the ministry that God has given my husband with the money I earn, a ministry which among other things, supports widows in our community.

The book of Luke tells us that Jesus ministry was financially supported in part by two women. Where did their money come from? Mine is certainly not a rebellious role, and I don't in the least feel that I am feeding my husband "the apple". I feel very much valued by my husband, and am reminded quite often by him that I am a good wife and mother. My children don't feel neglected - in fact we have a "Parents of the Year" award hanging on our refrigerator that our girls printed on the computer for us about a year and a half ago. We definitely live within our means, and I do not work so that we can get "more". We owe no one anything except for the mortgage on our house. I do not feel that "running late or behind" on a bill is a good witness for Christ. Since I am in the work world, I often hear just what worldly people say about Christians who cannot be counted on to pay their debts on time. Words of witness fall on deaf ears to those non-Christians who have trusted a Christian to pay money in a timely manner and don't know from one month to the next if they will see their money.

What have my teenage girls learned from my example? They have learned that just because life deals you a lemon, (my first husband going to prison, for example) it is not acceptable to sit home and cry and sponge off the government. They have learned that unexpected things happen in this life, (my husband's illness), and they need to be prepared to take care of themselves, because there may not always be someone around to take care of them. God forbid that something should happen to this woman's husband tomorrow. By being so closed minded, she would be ill prepared to take care of herself and her children. Will she expect the church or the government to do it?

I thank God that I have a good husband, and I praise God that she does, too. I agree with her on one point - men that treat their wives and families good and have a love and fear of God and His ways are a dying breed. Because Godly men are no longer then norm, even in the church, my girls are being raised to make Jesus Christ the only man they should depend on, and that it is OK for them to be self sufficient, because God's calling for their lives just may be for them to remain unmarried. By being self sufficient, they will be able to take care of themselves and wait however long it takes for God to send them the right person for them. They will not have to rush into marriage simply to have someone take care of them. They are also being taught that marriage and family is an honorable and Godly goal in life, and that they will be supported by us in no matter what God's calling is for their lives.

I do not feel that I am being disobedient to God by working. I feel blessed. Every day, I thank Him for health and strength, and that He has made me able bodied and given me the ability to carry on in the face of things. He has blessed me with working at a company that understands my commitment to my family, and understands that I may walk out of that office at a moment's notice if my family needs something. I sometimes find myself going weeks at a time with no time for myself, but that is the price that I am willing to pay to put family first. I praise God that He has given me the wisdom to prepare for the future now, because with my husband's condition, I know that one day I will be doing this all alone.

I applaud women that stay home and take care of their children, especially when it means giving up the "extras" in life. I feel I am no less where God wants me to be right now than the writer of this letter is. God has made us all different, and has put us all in differing circumstances all to His glory and as He sees fit, and we need to respect that in each other. It is sad that were I to meet this woman in person, the first question she would ask me when she found out I was a working mother would be, "What about your children?", with no regard for what I may be going through. All of the "peer pressure" in the world does not change my circumstances.

Every day, women are used, misused, and abused. I can't help but be loving, understanding and supportive of other women, regardless of their situation. I would never attempt to make another woman feel guilty simply because her life does not reflect what I feel is "right".

I am not afraid to sign my name to my letter.

Barbara Van Cleve

From Linda 8/28/99

You know I often said, I don't understand what the purpose is in having children if you’re going to actually pay another person to raise the child. That is something that has been very hard for me in my life. I once had a job that paid very well and I gave it up because I was made to choose between the two. My son had been very ill and I was not allowed to have the day off because of just having a baby my attendance record as they said was poor, (but could you see me having a baby any other way?). I had gotten a phone call from my mother in law and she had told me that he had a temp. of 106 degrees. So I asked my boss if I could take off so I could take him to the dr. and he point blank told me that if I left that I would no longer have a job. Well I don't need to tell you what happened there. So many times the work force does that to woman. Including giving them a poor attendance record when they take off to have a baby. What man can have a baby?

So I can understand what that woman is talking about in raising your own children and taking care of your family. That is a ministry in itself. Guilt was something that stayed with me everyday that I had to leave my little ones. It tore at my heart every time I saw them cry for me not to leave. I thank God that He gave me ideas and creative ways of being able to bring in income and still be able to raise my own children.

Sister in Christ
Linda Evans

From Steve (who started all this in the first place! LOL)

From: Steve Perdue
Sent: Friday, August 20, 1999 9:27 AM
Subject: 082099 OD - Stay at home Mom Summation

Dear Friends,

Two days ago I sent you a letter from a "Stay At Home Mom". Yesterday I sent you a letter from a Mom who does not stay at home. Each attempted to defend their position regarding the Titus 2 passage, and the role of mothers and women in general.

I think there is truth in both letters and I think a mother (and her husband-if there is one) should be able to prayerfully decide for themselves regarding this issue with a clear conscience and without suffering anyone's "attitude" about it. I agree with Dr. Dobson and one of my respondents who reiterated that we must be careful not to harshly condemn and judge someone who disagrees with us on an issue like this.

Matt 7:1 (Jesus said) "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (NIV)

I do think that Christian parents should sit down and talk about this issue and purposely decide what to do. So many of us just slip into a lifestyle without sitting down to deliberately decide what we want to do. If a father and mother decide that they want the Mom to stay at home, they will probably have to pay off some bills and make some adjustments that will take a little time. It would be damaging to families to make such a decision without due considerations and planning. But, sometimes, when we don't even talk about it, we just assume that it can't be done and just default into doing what we really didn't want to do.

There has been a great deal of e-mail response to the two letters. It is not my intention to tell anyone how to live their life or make this decision, but I do hope that husbands and wives will talk about the issue and seek the Lord and make their own decision - one way or the other.

Phil 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-- not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-- continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (NIV)

Jeannie and I decided that she would stay at home while the children were too young to go to school and then we would consider her return to work when the children were in school. We did that except when Elisabeth was a pre-schooler and Jeannie was the administrator of the day care center where she attended - allowing Jeannie to still be the prime care-giver to her.

One issue that has greatly influenced our decision for her to ultimately return to work after the kids were in school is that pastors find it almost impossible to buy health insurance because they don't have access to groups and HMO's, etc. When Jeannie went back to work, we had been without insurance for a few months because we simply couldn't pay the $860.00 premium (and that was a minister's group).

Anyway, that's how me made our decision - but families have to decide for themselves how to handle this issue. I sent out two letters, one from each side of the issue in order to stimulate your thinking and conversation - not to tell people what to do. I would like to see you make a conscious decision rather than defaulting to a lifestyle without considering seriously these issues.

One little point: don't let fear be the determining factor. Make pleasing God the basis of your decision. Our greatest fear should be missing His will and our greatest joy is walking in it.

Other Insights on the Web

Putting Women in Their Place By Linda Mintle

Babies and the Boardroom: You can have it all by Ann Morse

What Do Women Want? by Ann Morse

Who's Minding the Children? by Brenda Hunter

Feminist Foibles: Two Women Tell All by Glen Stanton

Childbearing Interlude Excerpted from Finding God At Harvard by Kathryn Donovan Wiegand

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