Over the last half century, I’ve witnessed a serious decline in the respect given to those who choose to be “stay-at-home” mothers.
A growing number of women, especially in the United States, have decided to forgo having children in favor of pursuing a high-powered profession.
My perspective may seem old fashioned and out of date, but I’ve spent much of my almost 80 years observing families, including my own sons and daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ve developed the following maxim: You can have it all, but not all at once. There is a time and a place for all aspects of human life.
People today can be active and productive well into their 70s and 80s, but they can only conceive and bear children for 20 – 30 of those years.
Study after study reveals that children born into a marriage between a man and a woman and raised by both parents living under the same roof have the greatest chance of becoming happy productive adults. Today’s reality, however, means that more than half of all marriages fail and, therefore, more than half of children under age 18 live in single parent homes for significant portions of their lives. Reality also means that society, as a whole, (meaning you and I) must step forward to support single moms (and dads). Our support can be as simple as offering to bring in dinner, run some errands, or help a child who needs tutoring.
I’ve witnessed men and women in my family working together to accomplish life’s tasks. My father cherished and protected my mother and we knew that he loved her more than anything. Their taking three little kids into the Alaskan wilderness to homestead after World War II baffled our relatives (and dismayed most of them).
I look back on those years and realize that my attitude toward the relationship between men and women was shaped by what I saw between my mother and father. I saw them working alone, with only the mechanical help of a winch mounted on the front of our jeep and a chain saw, to build our cabin. I watched Mama drive the jeep with a plow hitched behind it to prepare fields for planting. Daddy held the plow steady, although he had to run once in awhile when she went too fast.
Speaker and writer, Sheri Dew quoted a friend of hers who described how he and his wife raised a large and close knit family while he pursued a successful profession. “One day in our early marriage the light clicked on for me. It happened after we had been to an event sponsored by my work. One person after another complimented my wife on supporting me in my career. As we drove home, it dawned on me that actually I was the one doing the supporting. I went to work every day to make it possible for her to stay home with our children and focus without distractions on the most important work we as a couple would ever do–and that was raise our children to love the Lord and become the best they could be.”
Children only need direct, involved parents for about 20 years. Then the relationship changes to a special friendship. How that happens could be the subject of another column! Once children become adults, they should be able to direct and be responsible for their own lives. If they have problems (which we all do), parents can and should step in.