My mother stayed at home while her kids were young to watch us. What she did when we were all at school was a mystery that I didn’t think about– she would always be there to pick us up at school to bring us home. I think that many families pattern their behavior after what their parents did– or try to do better than their parents– so it shouldn’t surprise you that my wife all stays home with our kids((Interestingly, none of my siblings currently have this arrangement)).
Changes in the neighborhood
One of the problems with this change in home arrangement is that neighborhoods are a lot different depending on who lives there. A few generations ago, when most moms were home, you could have safer neighborhoods with adult presence at most homes and kids playing at different homes under adult supervision. My friend across the street and I played almost daily all during my childhood!
As a mom, this provided a support group, something that you don’t often look into when considering a home, as Mrs. Anna T talks about in Stay-at-home mothers, social pressure and feelings of inferiority. Not having that support system hurts young mothers. It hurts them because it isolates them, and without a support structure to bind them together they cannot grow like they could in times gone by.
Should All Women Work Outside the Home?
You could make the argument that women should all work, then they would be able to have the support group of the women at the office. This is not what many women feel called to do– both those that stay home and those that work know that you can put the most of yourself into your kids by spending time with them. In Why I stay home, Mrs. Anna T writes about how it may not look much different from the outside, but what she’s doing is important:
I feel that what I do is important. Important enough to do it full-time; important enough to do it myself, rather than delegating it to others. And I think that’s the key here. It’s not like free daycare or free available transportation would induce me to go out to work. I’d still be here, because that’s where I belong.
You see, sometimes mom really does want to stay home, and we should support them either way.
How Did We Get Here?
So if there’s a general longing to be home, and being home helps moms network and interact, how did we get here? It would be easy to just blame feminism. Feminists have demanded equality and can give the impression that women that stay home are not living up to their full potential. No, they are not to blame in this, as they have simply provided the means and not required them. I mean, even women doctors have chosen to leave their fields to raise the next generation.
The truth is that men and women have been sold the idea that life is supposed to be easy, and raising children is anything but easy. It appeals to us that we should be able to have it all. That if we just model good behavior we will have good children, and that it’s easy to raise good kids. Nothing is further from the truth. We’re told that keeping up a house is something that should be easy, or that we should get someone else to do it, and then we find that the laundry and the dishes never end!
It is this drive to “have it all” and “have it easily” that has convinced both moms and dads to attempt to earn more money and to spend more time away from their families then what used to be considered a normal a part of family life. So just like the modern generation doesn’t know how to process poultry by hand or how to make meat come from a cow because of the department store, so we have a generation of parents that may long to be part of their children’s lives by being home, but don’t know what to do because raising kids is much different that seen on television, and they feel like a failure because some people’s kids are behaving better than theirs.
All Families are Different
Contrary to the self-help books and the television series on
The Lust Channel((What is the point of a station that shows you “the perfect family” and how your house isn’t creative enough, etc., other than to generate covetousness or lust?)) The Learning Channel, You cannot teach one set of rules and have it work for every child and have every child turn out cookie-cutter perfect. Each child is different, each parent is different, and other than a few time tested principles like remaining consistent when it comes to discipline and not engaging in fights that you’re not invested in to win, there really isn’t that much that can be told you from a book.
What it takes is time, prioritization, and figuring out what works. It takes investment and sometimes it’s all about timing and being there during the important moments. It’s more than quality time– it’s quantity time as well.
Those that choose to stay home now and in the future are learning things that should have been passed down from the previous generation and weren’t because it’s different. Our only hope is to spread the value of moms at home with children and to encourage mentors and building people up. We need to stop looking so individualistic– like every family is an island. It’s not that it takes a village to raise a child, but the opposite is also not true, that God created us to do it all on our own.