Friday, February 25, 2011

Do All Mormon Women Stay Home After Having Children?

I really enjoyed what Janelle wrote about Mormon Women staying home after having children.  Take a look.

Where have all the good men & women gone?

Jennie over at LAF/Beautiful Womanhood linked to Where Have All the Good (Wo)Men Gone?, which was a response to Where Have the Good Men Gone? in the Wall Street Journal.

Jennifer Fulwiler (Where Have all the Good Wo(Men) Gone?) explains the debate between the sexes regarding who caused whom to have such ill behavior and shirk traditional male/female roles: 

I’ve seen debates like this before, and they usually degenerate into chicken-and-egg arguments about which gender’s bad behavior sparked the bad behavior of the other. Each side has some valid points, but I think that the entire debate is centered on the wrong question. I suspect that it was not the behavior of one gender that ignited this current animosity between the sexes; rather, I think it started when we, together as a society, started redefining marriage and sexual morality.

When sex meant marriage, people got married earlier. When sex and marriage meant children, young men worked harder at younger ages to prepare to provide for a family. If a young man wasted his early 20s on inane pursuits, there were real consequences: he’d be viewed as irresponsible and a bad provider, and thus his opportunities for marriage (and therefore intimacy with a woman) would be drastically limited. Young women held men to higher standards. For them, a boyfriend wasn’t just someone to “hook up” with (to use Klausner’s parlance), but the potential future father of their children — and they expected him to act accordingly. And young women were motivated to shape up their behavior as well: a woman who didn’t show any interest in the self-sacrifice and maturity required for
marriage would have a hard time getting dates.

God knew what he was doing when he designed marriage. This system takes the worst tendencies of men and women and orders them so that serving one another in love benefits both ourselves and others. I fear that these “Where have all the good (wo)men gone?” debates will continue to be fruitless until we take a hard look at what we as a society have done to the millennia-old institution for uniting the sexes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Tribute to the Titus 2 Ladies

I used to have some negative feelings about mothers and motherhood.  I felt very similar to those sentiments expressed by Ceci in her post, The Other Side of the Fence.  It's rather odd, though, that I felt this way because I had (and still have) a fantastic mother who I believe loved (loves) being a mother!  I've always tried to determine where I picked up these attitudes, and still can't quite figure it out.

After I had my first child, I began to realize the true value of mothers and the huge sacrifice they make.  I realized how amazing they are.  I realized that those girls who dropped out of college, or who never even went so that they could marry and start families were often incredibly humble to do God's will and not pursue personal interests.  I was too proud to even want to do that.  The opportunity didn't present itself at that stage of my life, but if it did, I hope I would have chosen the family route, but I'm just not sure I could have done it.  I think the falling in love and romance was an easy thing, but it's the responsibilities (children) that come after, that I wasn't too keen on.

I was very well set on being a stay-at-home mom once children came, so that's what I did.  I felt those children needed me more than anything else.  However, because I had those previously mentioned bad attitudes, it made it more difficult to feel personal value as a stay-at-home mom.

I knew there were women in the world who really, really enjoyed staying home with their kids, so why couldn't I?  I started looking into LDS literature on the topic of mothering, but just found all the reasons I should have kids and all the things I should do, but no in-depth examples of women who were actually living examples of a mother who really loved staying home with her kids.  I wanted to get inside the head of women who loved being home and let them rub off on me.

Eventually, through some sewing projects I met some Christian ladies on-line who seemed to love staying home, raising children, and being domestic.  As I learned more about these ladies I realized these women knew their Bibles and diligently studied them; they honored their husbands; they even homeschooled their kids!; they avoided worldliness and tried to live self-sufficiently; they accepted as many children as God would send them; they were a family team.  (I'm sure that's a very broad generalization, but that was the feel I got.)  I found they always referred to "Titus 2" and Biblical Womanhood, and I had no idea what they were talking about. 

I looked up Titus 2 and found (vs. 2-5):

The aged women likewise [sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience], that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;  That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,  To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

These women actually lived what Paul said in Titus!  Some of the women blogged, some of them had books. I bought one of their books: Passionate Housewives Desperate for God.  I realized I wanted to think more like these Titus 2 women and wondered why many of us in the LDS Church aren't more like them.  Today I re-read Julie Beck's talk, Mothers Who Know and realized we are, or should be in many cases, more like these Titus 2 ladies.

Julie Beck reminds us:
  • "The responsibility mothers have today has never required more diligence."
  • We "desire to bear children" and "we still believe in having children."
  • We "are nurturers. . . [we] cultivate, care for, and make grow."
  • We "create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in [our] homes."  
  • "Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work."
  • We are homemakers and "teach and model qualities children should emulate."  
  • We should have a house of order.
  • We are knowledgeable.
  • We are leaders in equal partnership with our husbands.  
  • We plan for the future.
  • We do not abandon our plans for the future "by succumbing to social pressure and worldly models of parenting."
  • We are "selective about [our] own activities and involvement to conserve [our] limited strength in order to maximize [our] influence where it matters most."
  • We "permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally."  
  • We "allow less media in [our] homes, less distraction, less activity that draws [our] children away from [our] home."
  • We "are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with [our] children."
  • We "choose carefully and do not try to choose it all."
  • Our "goal is to prepare a rising generation of children who will take the gospel of Jesus Christ into the entire world."
  • Our "goal is to prepare future fathers and mothers who will be builders of the Lord's kingdom."
  • We "do not give up during difficult and discouraging times."
So, I am ever grateful to the Titus 2 ladies who have rubbed off on me and helped me be a better and more fulfilled Latter-day Saint mother.

We've come a long way

A while back I listened to the Legacy broadcast regarding W. W. Phelps.  It was interesting to me to learn more about women and their cultural context in the 1830s.

It was recorded that W. W. Phelps was overbearing toward his wife (around minute 17:30); in those days, stemming from the Puritan tradition, "men ruled the home," and this was also common in the Church.  "Women had little voice in the church -- it was a very rare thing for a woman to stand out and be heard and be listened to on her own. . . . As revelations have continued in these latter days, we can see how important that harmony and equality is between a man and a woman in the marriage covenant.  It was not as fully grasped in those days."

I'd love to write up some examples of how women gained a voice over time and how women's organizations, including the Relief Society, assisted in this effort, but I don't think I can take the time!  I just love, though, that the women did gain a voice and we continue to have that voice and respect today.

Spiritual Education and Knowledge

I read Motherhood and Education by Rachell and just loved what she said regarding Julie Beck's thoughts on knowledge and education:

. . .“Mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. . . . Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth” (italics added). Here, Sister Beck states that nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but recognizes that unless women know how to create a climate in their home where their eternal posterity can grow both temporally and spiritually, any amount of education is futile. I would submit that as Latter-day Saint women, we should keep this in mind. Our education is useless if we do not know how to invite and maintain the Spirit in our homes. The purpose of our education, as I interpret it from this statement from Sister Beck, is secondary to spiritual knowledge and application. Therefore, the aim of our education should be to aid us in creating an atmosphere in our homes and families where the Spirit can dwell and teach our families. Consequently, I would suggest that if our education, or any other pursuit (spending inordinate amounts of time reading, or cleaning, or cooking, or blogging, or whatever) is taking away from our ability to create homes where the Spirit prevails, then we have wasted our time seeking whatever education we have obtained.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Beauty Redefined

Just saw a write-up on Beauty Redefined over at Mormon Women.  It's an overview of "Lindsay and Lexie Kite and their research focused on helping people be more media literate. They want to raise awareness of the way profit-driven media can influence and distort our perception of beauty and worth."

Very neat to learn about the research they are doing!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mrs. (Insert Husband's Name Here)

Yesterday I met some really neat women over at Empowering LDS Women.  As I was new to the site, I took a little time to read some old posts.  There was one entitled "Feminist Pet Peeve" and I just had to read it.  Karissa, the author commented that it drove her nuts receiving things addressed to Mr. and Mrs. (husband's name).

I just had to laugh!  I used to feel the same way.  It also drove me insane when we'd be at a social gathering, people would ask my husband what he did, and then completely glaze over me as if I had nothing to contribute to society.

However, I don't know what has changed over the last couple years.  For some reason, I now feel honored when someone addresses me as Mrs. (my husband's name).  Perhaps it's that I've delved in too much history; maybe it's that since I "just" stay home, I like being attached to his public successes; possibly it's that I just love him so much that I like being "claimed" by him (for lack of a better word); perhaps it's that if I do something stupid, I can blame him (I jest!).

I told my husband my thoughts last night, and he gave a sincere, but sappy, "oooohhh" [that is so sweet].  He admitted that it still does bug him, though, because I do, in fact, have a name, and I am my own person.

A few minutes later as I was thinking how I was honored to take his name, I also realized another name we take: Jesus Christ's -- at baptism.  I thought, I need to be just as honored to bear His name as I am my husband's -- and show it.  I'm sure most of those "Titus 2"/"Biblical Womanhood" ladies have already discovered this, as they so clearly understand the symbolism of Christ being the bridegroom and us all being the bride.

Now, just a last side note:  As for being skipped over regarding what I do at social gatherings, as long as I know there are other mothers in the room, it doesn't bug me all that much anymore, either.  My husband can be the "popular" one, and I know I can automatically relate to the other mothers there without making a grand introduction.  Now if I'm at a academic or career-type function, I do feel a bit of an inferiority complex.  It is sad, and hopefully I'll grow out of that someday.  For the meantime, though, I'll try and remember our similarities as discussed in Similarities and Differences.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Do half of marriages really end in divorce?

Kathryn over at A Well Behaved Mormon Woman shared some stats on marriage.  You know how we've all heard that half of marriages end in divorce, and we all get kind of confused by that number?  Well "The facts are, that fifty percent of ALL marriages do end in divorce -- BUT, more than 70 percent of all first marriages succeed."  Whew!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Redefining Beautiful

I know this is old news by now (last October), but I just read about it on the Misfit Cygnet.  I pretty much never watch tv, so I'm a little behind the times.

These cute girls in Texas go a day a week without makeup so they can learn to be beautiful without it and so others can see who they really are. (sorry, couldn't get it to embed)

I don't really have anything against makeup, unless you wear so much that I can't see you behind it, but I liked the point that these girls want to be beautiful for who they are, not for what they look like.

Why I'm Trying to Have a Voice

I was just thinking, I hope I don't sound preachy on this blog.  I've been trying to speak up more about what I believe lately and I understand it can sometimes make others feel like I'm judging or criticizing them.  The real point is, though, I think I want to speak up to show others who have similar thoughts and feelings that there is another agreeing voice out there!

Many of us sit back and allow things to happen in our communities because we think that's what everyone else wants, even when we personally don't think it's right.  When we really start talking, though, we find that there's still a good-sized group of people that actually agrees with us!  We're just afraid to speak up!

I hope to put my voice out there so people know what I believe and when it comes down to it, they can count on me for our common purpose.

I've also found in reading blogs that are even more conservative than mine, that there is an influence for good.  I could take some of the topics as preachy, but I can also feel inspired that other people have such high standards and I should improve myself, too.

Making My Home a Refuge from the Storm

Zion In the Midst of Babylon by David R. Stone was a really good article on making our homes a safe place for our families.  Now to be more diligent and better implement the ideas. . . .

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away. . .

Before there was a Mormon 13th Article of Faith,
Before little Mormon kids sang, "Be true, be true, and stand for the right,"
Before the Mormons touted modesty,
Before the Mormons sang, "Who's on the Lord's side, who?"
Before there were even Mormons,

There was a man named Paul.  He taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ, stood up for it, was imprisoned for it, and died for it.

He taught: 
  • "...Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever hings are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philip 4:8).
  • Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).
  • If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above. . . .  Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. . . .  Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. . . .  But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.  Lie not. . . . (Colossians 3:1 - 9).
  • ". . .how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
  • How ye ought to walk and to please God. . .  For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but to holiness.  He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God. (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 7-8).
  • Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another. . . (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
  • Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.  See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.  Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  Quench not the Spirit.  Despise not prophesyings.  Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.  Abstain from the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5: 14-22).
He spoke of persecution:
  • And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:  So that ye were ensamples to all that believe. . . (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
  • "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God. . . .  But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. . . .  Nor of men sought we glory. . . but we were gentle among you. . . (1 Thessalonians 1: 2-7).
He also taught us how to act toward other people, even those that may not agree:
  • And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence..." (Philippians 1:9-10).
  • And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear (Philippians 1:14).
  • Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ (Philippians 1:27).
  • Stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved (Philippians 4:1).
  • ...but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God (Phillipians 4:6).
  • Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts. . . (Colossians 3: 12-15).
  • Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:6).
  • That ye study to be quiet. . . .  . . .I would not have you to be ignorant.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober  (1 Thessalonians 4: 11, 13; 5:6).
  • But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:8-9).
  • Let no man deceive you by any means. . . .  . . .stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught (2 Thessalonians 2: 3, 15).
Just wonderful teachings. Let us Christians, and all others who share these values unite for the Right!

Do You Hear the People Sing
Les Miserables
(ironically, not that I'd recommend watching some parts of the musical, 
but the message in this song is mighty powerful)

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight
That will give you the right to be free!!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!

Will you give all you can give
So that our banner may advance
Some will fall and some will live
Will you stand up and take your chance?
The blood of the martyrs
Will water the meadows of France!

Do you hear the people sing?
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes 

[ From: ]

Monday, February 7, 2011

Those They Left Behind

Next time you feel so inclined to be whiny when your husband is off doing service, Those They Left Behind might make you reconsider.  Well, it made me, anyway.

(It's about the wives and mothers whose husbands who were off on LDS missions and the women were left home to care for the family and the property.  Sometimes the husbands even died while they were out!!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sometimes We Just Want to Change the World

I've wanted to write a post about being a stay at home mom, a working mom, or an at-home working mom, but I just couldn't get it right. There was an older post on the Misfit Cygnet called How We Change the World that had some really good points for my time of life.  Obviously not everyone is in my time and situation, but these were good and validating for me.

The Misfit Cygnet said:

Long ago, when I was Advocate for the World, I did many great things to help other people.  I helped abused children, abused mothers, advocated for midwifery, and probably would have gone to Mexico or Haiti or Peru if it was in vogue in my earlier years.

You see, what I neglected to realize was that Heavenly Father already has a plan.  His plan is really, well–perfect.  He sent us here in family units.  Family units are His plan.  He sent us here with people automatically in place for us to serve.  They are not “our” children, you know.  They are His.  We are His.  We are in this together, and He answered the question, “Whom shall I serve?”  by putting us in groups called families.

Yes, we should serve each other, but we do need to focus on our families.  Nothing else will compensate for failure there.  Personally, I am not anywhere near believing that my family is all set…and think about it: if every mother in the church could put orphans, midwives, homeless, non-profits and conferences on hold and focus on her family for one year–what would happen?  We really could change the world.

While we focus on the family, however, we certainly do not ignore those who are in need.  Heavenly Father planned that out for us, too!  It is amazing what happens when we carefully help those who are placed in our path by God, and not wander on paths He has assigned for someone else.
(I added the emphasis.)

Many of us have a huge desire to get out and change the world -- we've grown up that way!  It's humbling to direct that desire to the home, at least for a season, and sometimes quite a long one!

I remember one of my seminary teachers one time was teaching about following the Spirit.  He emphasized that of course we need to follow the Spirit in all we do.  Say a person drops all her books at school and you feel inspired to hep her.  Should you?  Of course!  Say you get a feeling not to help her, and you wonder why not because it would be a nice thing that you might normally do.  Well, maybe it's someone else who needs to be prompted by the Spirit to help that day.  Maybe someone else needs that connection with the girl who dropped her books.

I assume we should use the same principle in determining how we serve outside our homes when we're in that  time of life with young children.  If you want my unsolicited advice:  If we honestly feel inspired and directed to serve in a project outside the home, DO IT.  If it's something we just want, and it's even good, but we don't actually feel prompted by the Spirit to do it, we should probably hold off.

One commenter, Amy, added:
When Pres. Benson asked mothers to go home (mid 80′s, wasn’t it?) my feminist teenage mind was furious but my neglected child heart was longing for my mother. My mom worked from home as the largest distributor for Brite Music (Mormon and values music) in the country. She spent hours on the phone, her evenings doing home presentations and hired neighbors to care for her homemaking chores. But she was home! All of us children knew that she wasn’t really home. Decades later my older sisters (who didn’t have a working mother) have all dabbled in business ventures and taken jobs outside the home. Those of us who lived with a working-at-home mother shun it like the plague. Ultimately my mom decided to continue working (at home) because she felt that what she was doing was helping so many families. While that may be true it’s also true that her younger children all struggle with the pain of being unnecessarily abandoned by our stay at home working mother. (The money she earned was used for nicer things and activities but not needed for the family to survive.)
This has led me to ponder how many ways I may stay at home but not BE home at all. Am I really present and “HERE” “NOW” or am I lost somewhere in the past or the future and missing the growth and education of my children all together?
 Wow.  I really liked what she said.  So, I think, it's most important that I'm home now, right?  Of course!  I've heard some people say that it doesn't really matter if you're home or away at work because you'll be distracted with other things when your home anyway.  So true.  However, this reminds me to get my priorities straight when I'm at home:  cut the blogging as necessary, stop other projects as needed, focus on the real priorities; let the hobbies, at-home work, and volunteer opportunities fall into place after.

2/9/11:  I was just reading the Women in the Scriptures blog, and there was a nice discussion entitled, "Mothers and Careers:  The Age Old Question." I liked the post, but really liked the comments at the end -- all dealing with this topic.

2/11/11:  I realized I wanted to add another teeny, tiny note at the bottom of this post regarding the great working mom versus stay-at-home mom debate.  Cokie Roberts in We Are Our Mothers' Daughters thinks the whole thing is silly; and she's probably right.  She suggests we all need to be supportive of each other; why are we women all turning against each other?  Interestingly, as I've learned reasons why many of my friends are working, typically part time, or even in the home, it's very often because there is a real financial need, but it's not like they want to go tell the world this.  This really emphasizes to me it's not my place to judge who's working and who's not!  We all seem to be trying to make the best decisions for our own families.