Monday, January 9, 2012

Raising Girls

Last October I had an interesting conversation with a friend regarding motherhood and raising daughters.  I should have just blogged it then, but I wrote it in my journal so I wouldn't stay up so late on the computer, which doesn't make any sense because handwriting takes so much longer, and now I have to type it up anyway!?

I'm still trying to figure out exactly how I feel about all of it, but wanted to put out the ideas for some feedback.

Just for background, this friend is a mother of slightly older children, including some of marriageable age.  She said that many of her friends with married sons and sons of marriageable age, are complaining about their daughters-in-law (or potential DILs) because these younger women expect their husbands (or future husbands) to go to school, work, cook, and if they have kids, help care for them in ways such as putting the kids to bed. She said the girls look at having a family as a burden (I suppose something to push off to someone else like their husbands) when it should really be an honor to care for a husband and kids.

She also said that she thinks a big change in the girls stems from girls' sports -- making them more aggressive.  Sports activities takes not only the girls out of the home, but also the mothers; therefore, the girls don't see the mothers being homemakers anymore, so they don't know what to do when they marry -- they don't see homemaking as their responsibility.  My neighbor did say she felt ballet and other feminine activities were okay, though, because they don't cause the aggression.

Later, she sent me an e-mail emphasizing how sacred this time with young children is, and that we don't need to be on the go all the time -- it's okay to be home and not be signing up to help with everything (I'm way guilty of that one).

Anyway, it was an insightful discussion, and I want to know what others think.  Particularly,

  • Is it a common attitude among young, married women to look at having a husband and a family as a burden and the care for them not primarily their responsibility?
  • Do you think sports and the aggression that comes along with sports is carried into a younger woman's overall attitudes and affects her relationships and marriage?
  • Do you think activities such as dance, although a more feminine past-time, could also have a negative impact on a girls view of homemaking because it, too, can take her and her mother out of the home so much?
  • How can we raise our girls with homemaker/mother/caregiver qualities, yet still help them be competitive academically/professionally (which can be very important as a lot of women don't marry)?  I had a really hard time valuing both roles, and favored the latter qualities.  I wish I could have had a better balance of the two.

21 comments:

Amanda said...

I think you're friend is off base. Although I wasn't in any sports growing up, I had many friends who were. From what I witnessed, sports teach how to get along, how to compromise, how to be responsible, how to play fair with teammates and opposing teams...and the list goes on. So that notion, imo, is ridiculous. Girls can be aggressive and mean if they are inclined naturally or pressured into it no matter if they are into sports or other 'non-feminine' activities or not.
Children learn by example and discussion. If parenthood and homemaking skills are important, then you can teach by example and talk to your kids about why. Just example is not enough. Talk means nothing without the actions to back it up.
We currently live in a "ME" society. It seems to have become acceptable for people to put themselves first. That attitude seems to even be trickling into members of the church. If we allow media (tv, magazines, internet, other types of literature) of any kind that condones those attitudes as acceptable and not discuss why it's not, then why wouldn't today's youth think it was not okay? I don't think 'burning books' is okay but we should be mindful of what our kids are exposed too. If it's not in the home, it's everywhere else for them to get exposed to and that's why discussion is so important.

notmolly said...

I'll take 'em in order:

I think the common attitude amongst many younger women right now is laziness, quite frankly, and a total lack of the skills needed to be a productive adult (including homekeeping skills, but the foundational character issues are a bigger deal). Oddly, I see it more in the "Mormon Corridor" than I ever saw it growing up. We were all too busy doing REAL things to be lazy.

It's 100% cool for a young wife/mother to expect the husband/father to participate in family life (including Daddy being Primary Parent with bedtime routines, etc.) Work is work, and ought to be divided up according to who has the time available, who is best at it, etc. If a husband is out working 10 hours a day, and comes home to a wreck, no food, etc, and is then expected to do all the home stuff? Well, barring physical disability and health issues on the part of the wife, she's being lazy if she expects him to do it all. She has the option to treat her home time as her career, and get good at it, and DO it. Otherwise, their family could opt for HER to be the primary breadwinner, and have a stay-at-home Dad. That can work.

I don't think girls sports has anything to do with it. There's no benefit to being overly-committed and distracted by "girly" stuff versus sports. It's all the same. If a person is allowed to become selfish in their youth (by not having regular participation in family life, responsibilities, interactions, etc), it doesn't matter what activity is pulling them away--they're simply developing a self-focused streak that will be a problem later.

Girls who are involved in active sports for recreation, stress relief, and just plain old FUN develop some healthy hobbies that carry through all the rest of their lives. I've a friend around the corner who most might assume is a total "Molly Mormon"--in good ways. She's an on-the-ball homemaker, loving mom, loving wife, involved in the gospel... and she LOVES it when each summer the husbands and wives get an informal softball league going at the park. She plays her butt off, and enjoys every second. She played ball in high school... far from making her aggressive, she's a great leader, knows how to encourage people, and knows how to throw her whole body into a ballgame. I think it's awesome.

I stink at sports.

notmolly said...

And Part II, because I type too much...

I'm not raising girls specifically "to be Moms"... I'm raising them to be adult humans. They need to know how to do things like sew, bake, garden, clean, cook, change the oil in the car, repair a bike, put up drywall, and replace a broken sink faucet. SO DOES MY SON. With a goal of raising them to be an active part of their own households, as they are an active part in our household, we're not setting up expectations that certain things are "girl work" and others are "boy work." It's all just "people work", and we all (including Dad) work together to get it done.

My oldest has a leaning toward culinary arts. She wants to do something commercial with food, like maybe owning a restaurant after culinary school. She also wants to have six kids. So it's my job as her parent to help her explore ways to make those righteous desires compatible. Perhaps running a restaurant while her children are growing is not a workable plan... but running a home-based specialty foods business, giving cooking classes, etc completely can be. She can have excellent real-world work skills *and* have the time needed to parent, IF she's willing to be realistic and creative along the way.

Here's an interesting thing to think about: my oldest recently said she thinks it's good to share a room with siblings (ours always have), because she's noticed that friends who don't seem to be a lot more self-focused and detached from their families than those who do share with at least one sibling. I tend to agree: adolescence, with all the physical weirdness that plagues us, is "separating" enough. Add in electronic separation, activity separation, lack of real contributions to the household, and no need to share anything, ever, and it's a perfect storm for creating isolated, self-focused people who really do expect a spouse to do it all, because, well, they're BUSY and don't want to.

Also, how many BOYS are being given opportunities to prepare for adult manhood and fatherhood by learning to sew, bake, cook, change diapers, sing songs, shop with babies, drywall a room addition, or fix a child's bike? If we're not training them to be adults, we're failing. We aren't raising children. Our final result is an Adult, full and round and functional and self-sufficient, who will hopefully find a similarly-arranged spouse and have a really fantastic life of "doing stuff" together.

Trying to sum up: I do think the root cause of the "rising generation" problems is selfishness and laziness, and I do think we can overcome that, without really that much effort, but we have to have higher expectations of our young people, boys or girls.

Unknown said...

I think that mother-in-laws should not be critical of daughter-in-law current or prospective ever. If mothers did a good job raising their son the person they pick will be a great complement. How each couples divide the labor of adulthood is a personal choice.

I hate doing bedtime. I get short temped and unkind. My husband will wait patiently while shushing little ones to sleep. Does that mean I'm lazy or I think my kids are a burden? No, it means I understand my limitations and will work on a differrent task while he reads a story and has daddy time with our kids, which is great because many days he's at work before they get up, and gets home right before bed. My kids know going to sleep that they are love and treasured. I know that they have been well loved and cared for by a hard working loving mother who was home with them caring for their home, nutrion and eduction and hard working loving father who was at work providing for them but still wants to know them as the unique treasures that they are.

Your friend was out of line and should have been reminded that sons leave there mothers and fathers to cling to their wives in marriage.

Sports or aggression has nothing to do with division of labor.

Becky Rose said...

I have a nephew who is married and has 3 daughters. His wife while she takes great care of the girls, does almost nothing for the home- cooking, cleaning, laundry and my nephew does almost all of it, after working all day. It has nothing to do with sports. It has to do with the fact that this is how her home was. dad did it all and mom did nothing.

I feel bad for him, but he defends her.

AllisonK said...

I also disagree with your friend, as a mother of daughters who play sports (I played myself). I do think there is a sense of entitlement among young people today, boys and girls alike.

In our case, our daughters are having a hard time finding boys who are responsible, hard working, etc. They have found most males to be addicted to video games and such. I think the perspective goes both ways.

Bridget said...

I think I have to agree with what has been said that any activities taken to excess cause problems with mother and daughter not being in the home. With all of the body-issues associated with dancing (I was a ballerina lucky enough to avoid those - thank goodness!), I'm not sure that it is a win, win activity for girls either. It really all comes down to balance and teaching priorities at home like Sister Beck has taught us. Like it has been mentioned, I think that sports can be great at building self-worth and should not be avoided because they cause "aggression." As far as laziness, when we lived in student housing in Logan, there were MANY problems with young husbands being totally irresponsible as well. Playing video games excessively, spending too much time with friends, basically acting like they didn't have a spouse were some serious points of contention between young married couples. While I think that many young women aren't prepared for marriage I think the same goes for our young men, so it's unfair to put all the burden on girls. I guess we just need to double our efforts to make sure our kids know what to do to make a family work and what to look for in a hard-working spouse!

kels said...

A) amen to notmolly
B) I don't think sports has anything to do with the concerns you expressed
C) I don't think there is a massive growth in women that are lazy and unwilling to take up their responsibilities... I think that happens sometimes of course... but mostly I think women are just finally expecting men to step up to the plate at home (like our leaders have counseled). I do think their is a certain level of angst among young women about how to embrace responsibilities outlined in the Proclamation while still being true to interests/talents and responsibilities in other areas (to community, church, the world, etc). I think if we didn't present the two categories of [homemaker] and [professional] as so polarizing, women and YW wouldn't feel so confused and stressed about it. They wouldn't feel like home/family care taking and responsibilities were such a drag/burden. Because they don't need to be mutually exclusive (and academic/professional pursuits aren't only worthwhile for women that don't marry). Instead if we could offer valuable training in both skills, for both boys and girls, I think everyone would feel more optimism about both categories, and their ability to shoulder all their divine responsibilities well. Particularly once they have a partner to share them with-- and I mean an equal partner!

Audrey said...

I am a stay-at-home-mom to 3 boys and 1 girl, and she is only 18-months old, so I don't have a lot of experience with girls, but I have a lot of opinions on motherhood! I will answer the bullet points first:

Yes, it is a completely common attitude amongst modern day women to expect their husbands to share in the caregiving of their children. It is through an old lens that people see being a stay-at-home Mom as (at least with more than two kids) something besides a full-time job. IT IS A FULL TIME JOB. So, how is it fair if a woman is "on" from 6:30am until 9:00pm, and her husband "works" from 8:00am until 6:00pm, when he gets to come home and start watching TV while she continues until 9:00pm?

Now, typically there is only enough time after work for my husband to help with distracting the kids while I finish dinner and handling bedtime, but he is glad to do it, because HE LOVES OUR CHILDREN.

30 years ago, a woman could safely send her kids outside to play for hours at a time and have a chance to get things done. In this day, you have to be aware and attentive to your children literally every second of the day. There is no "time off" unless someone else is watching your children.

Yes, I think that there is a HUGE problem with "entitlement" in young adults/teenagers/children today. We have too much, too easily, and people are not being taught well enough to be hard-working and responsible.

I think that the sports thing is ridiculous. I don't think that it's sports or dance that is having an impact on how girls see homemaking. I would only say that girls should be taught to be aware of how to react/deal with lesbians. I have a great friend who is a principal ballerina, and she has told me that she would never want her daughter to go into dance because it is a very morally corrupt industry.

I did not marry until I was 25 years old, and I was working in Marketing before that. I often miss that work. It can be mind-numbing to spend so much of my time doing the dishes and folding laundry. But! In my righteous moments, I know that I am caring for my husband and children at this crucial time better than anyone else.

If, as an LDS woman, you believe that you will have eternity to progress, yet you only have maybe 10 or 15 years to fully devote yourself to raising your children during their crucial stages, wouldn't you go at it full-tilt? Absolutely, we should treat homemaking/motherhood as our current personal career.

This is how Satan gets at us. He will convince us to forget this, how short this time is, even though it can seem so long.

I am struggling to find a balance for myself and not burn out, we DO need some quiet private time to "fill our tanks" with hobbies or exercise, but we have got to cling to the knowledge of what we are really doing.

Someday, I will learn to paint! I have always wanted to, and I will. My mom did it, and I will do it, too. Guess what? I have an eternity before me. (I am also not doing it now because I know that I would spend hours staring at my canvas, and I would irritate me to be interrupted.)

One more point about the division of labor. The most irritating thing I ever witnessed was my sister and her husband both working full-time jobs, yet when they both got home she was expected to take care of their daughters and the cooking and the house because she was the woman. If they are equal in responsibility, they are both parents, and they are both fully functional, why not share in the work at home while they are both there?

It is, both fortunately and unfortunately, a new day and age.

Emily said...

My friend Steph P put this in response on fb, I had to save it because I feel a lot the same way:

I don't know the answers to these questions, but I am always saying that I think it is harder to raise girls than to raise boys because boys' paths are pretty clearly laid out: graduate high school, go on a mission, go to college, get married, get a job, support your family. It seems like girls have so many options, but they don't necessarily have control over those options - girls have a lot of uncertainty to deal with.

All I can say is this: I've been a SAHM in my home for 12 years, and it really kind of sucks. I don't care if it is an honor or not - it is hard work to take care of a husband and children. Asking my husband to put the kids to bed is hardly abandoning my responsibilities as a mother to nurture.

I never participated in girl's sports (I was a cheerleader), so I don't really have any opinions on that. Except that I really don't enjoy them for my boys. A lot of the meanest boys at school seem to be in sports.

The idea that a girl should never be involved in activities that would take her out of the home where she should be learning homemaking skills instead kind of makes me want to rip my hair out and scream. (And at the same time, I bemoan the fact that we have lost so many homemaking skills as a society because girls are not learning them from their mothers. They were lost a generation or two ago.)

Bottom line: someone has to care for a family. Someone needs the skills and needs to be willing to sacrifice. I clearly have been taught (and I accept) that it is me. I just think I got the bum end of the deal. If I didn't have a firm, strong testimony of the value of nurturing my children, there is no way I would choose this.

Emily said...

Michelle also said this:

I totally disagree that the sports thing is the 'cause' of this, though. Maybe overall busyness of families in general, overscheduling, etc. is having its impact, but I think limiting girls' activities to only ballet (she obviously hasn't seen the kind of terrible impact dance, etc. can have on girls and body image...not a reason to not do it necessarily, but certainly not a path without its negative consequences).

I've been thinking after reading the MMB thread more about how we as women might be able to help give more encouragement and support to young moms. I think we should acknowledge that it is hard work, and that it really can be a sacrifice. It does take faith, and I want to stand up and cheer women like Stephanie who deliberately make that choice in faith.

Part of what the individuality focus we have in our culture does is sort of feed the 'do what you want to do' thing, rather than do what is right.' Doing what is right can often be really hard. Like Rebecca said earlier, those who stay home see women 'out there' working and 'feeling personally fulfilled.' When your personal strengths or passions aren't "naturally" in childrearing or homemaking (like Emily mentioned on her blog), it can be a real sacrifice and struggle to choose to stay home.

For me, as kiddos have gotten older and I've felt more of what it really means to be a mom as I've gone from the purely physical care to a lot more of the spiritual and emotional nurturing, it's like this role has come alive for me, and it fills my bucket, where before it often just drained it. By bedtime, I didn't want to tuck kiddos in bed. Now it's time I cherish. So I think some of it may be ages and stages, too.

Emily said...

And Kirsi:

Yes and no. I think that it is a common attitude among SOME young women AND men to look at having spouses and family as a burden. Men have been doing it for centuries, now women have the power to do it, too.

Face it, having a family IS a burden. But it is one with immeasurable benefits. I think that we do a crack-poor job of sharing the benefits. Like every other thing which creates delayed gratification, or power through sacrifice, we just don't get it as a culture any more...

My mom did a pretty good job. I love all the homemaking skills. But there is no reason not to raise your boys with the bulk of those same skills. My dad is an excellent cook, and shared meal duties with my mom to varying degrees my entire life. He can also sew on a button, though I'd go to my mom if I wanted a formal. I've taken the skills my mom taught me and pushed them even farther and broader. She's better at sewing than I am, but I have knitting and cooking down more.

To me, it's about creativity. It's fun. I love spending time cooking and crafting with my kids.

Emily said...

And Steph:

I think I come from a different viewpoint on this one. I have never wanted to work outside the home. From the time I was little all I ever wanted to do was be a wife and a mother. It is very fulfilling to me to be a wife and mother. To see my kids be raised with great personalities and to be a part of their every day life is my greatest joy. I was raised by a mother who is very like me in that respect.

Emily said...

And Steph:

I think I come from a different viewpoint on this one. I have never wanted to work outside the home. From the time I was little all I ever wanted to do was be a wife and a mother. It is very fulfilling to me to be a wife and mother. To see my kids be raised with great personalities and to be a part of their every day life is my greatest joy. I was raised by a mother who is very like me in that respect. ...

If you are too busy with sports for your kids to have dinner together, FHE, and scriptures and prayers as a family that is a problem. Those are things that are most important in raising children. We have been taught that and having been raised in a family were this was emphasized greatly I know it is true. This is what I emphasize in my family. My boys both play basketball and my daughter is in tap and ballet, but if she wanted to play bball I would be all for it. She has chosen dance.

I also think that it is great for husbands to help their wives. I don't think they should be expected to come home and cook dinner and take care of the kids and do it all, but they can help. When my husband comes home I expect him to watch the baby so I can finish dinner. I don't think that a husband should come home and do nothing. He is a part of the family and should jump in and help with all the evening activities. My husband helps with dishes and putting kids in bed. We do it together we are a team and that is how we look at it. I do the daily chores, but he helps with nightly chores. It works out great!

Emily said...

And Cheryl:

Here's my take:
My father was a bona fide feminist --without knowing it. My mother worked full time as a 2nd grade teacher (she retires this year!) and my dad was a letter carrier (mailman). But my dad was different than a lot of men his age --he actually cared about helping "life the load". I know this had a lot to do with the fact that they both worked, but I was raised with the idea that men DO clean toilets, do laundry, make pies, fix the car, paint the house, pay the bills, play the piano, sing, enjoy "chick flicks", shovel the driveway, and plan dinner. That was just how my dad was. My mother was one lucky woman (still is!) because my dad wasn't TOLD to do this --he just assumed responsibility. If it needed to be done? He just did it. On the flip side --so did my mom. They work SO WELL together. They understand companionship. They understand their primary roles, yes, but I think their relationship is such a unique and beautiful exception to most couples in the Church --they just get it.

Busy-ness and sports: I think that has nothing to do with it. I was CONSTANTLY busy, and although I wasn't in sports, I was in music. But I still had time for seminary and FHE and family time (because my parents forced it --plus I just wanted it).

I think the way a young woman can get excited about being a mother/nurturer has much more to do with how she is raised than with the outside activities she is interested in pursuing. Pres. Hinckley asked us to get an education --there is nothing wrong with women pursuing that line of thinking. This is what I tell every young woman embarking on college:
"Look, you need to plan your life as if you will be alone. I know that sounds morbid and sad, but it's true --you follow the Spirit, and you get your education. Work. Work hard. Get your schooling done. Want to study abroad? Go on a mission? Learn a new skill? Boo-yah! Have at it! HOWEVER: When Mr. Right comes along, then you can change your plans."

I'm not talking about avoiding marriage --just not on planning on it happening in the first semester of college! Single sisters still need to know all the homemaking skills of a married woman --plus so much more. And the more skills in and out of the home a married mother has? Priceless. Our girls NEED their education and their experience and I would say more now than ever. Our girls are faced with so much opposition from the get-go. It doesn't matter what they choose or are asked to do, SOMEONE is going to criticize and/or demonize their choices. Stay home? Loser. Go to work? Loser.

How to get our girls to want to be mothers and nurturers? It's already there in the Gospel plan. Parents just need to keep the principles of the Gospel (and a big blow-up copy of the Family Proclamation on their wall) in the forefront of their family life.

Emily said...

And Elizabeth:

One of the things I love most about the church is that they stress education...for everyone, both boys and girls. I have a sister of a friend who belong to another Christian church and they tell the girls that they don't need an education, they just need to learn how to be good wives and mothers because they are going to get married and raise kids. I remember thinking that's one of the saddest things in the world.

Emily said...

Stephanie again: I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom to a large family. It is what I desired from the time I was a young child. But, to be honest, I don't think I was aware that there were any other options. Even when I graduated with my MBA, I still didn't really think there were any other options *for me*. Maybe part of what makes it so hard is that I never really developed homemaking skills as a child. I don't think I fully comprehended all the things a mother is responsible for. I find myself rather disillusioned.

Emily said...

Britt:

It's not sports. What would the option be? Do most mothers of teens have a young child in the home to model motherhood to their teen? It's not likely. Hard work, service, education, ability to communicate...these kinds of thing prepare for parenthood. ... are the women really lazy? Have they clung to the sahm role so they can blog and scrapbook and then expect their husband to do it all so he can be an involved partner. ... IME things don't split 50/50. Both need to give 100. Sometimes that will mean very traditional roles...sometimes it will be the exact reverse. Sometimes one partner will be doing the lion's share. That's life. Our culture definitely doesn't value housework...but I think it will more and more. The economy puts a focus on the value of making ends meet..cooking from scratch...fixing things and making things last.

Emily said...

Rebecca:

I do feel that more women are putting off families for one reason or another and almost none of them are truly good reasons. But I do not think that it is to much to ask a husband to help put the kids to bed at night, in fact I think it is essential to forming a strong bond.

But, I do not think that a women should expect her husband to do more than she does. If she is home all day, then she should do most of the cleaning, cooking, and caring for children. But if she is doing school and work and so is the husband, then they should both clean the house and cook and take care of the children. An equal partnership, not equal responsibilities, but equal partnership.

Now, the moment she started talking about girls playing sports and that being a reason why they don't want to have families I just got upset. I truly do not believe this to be the case. I have known many girls who have played and still do play sports and have had kids soon after marriage and are still having kids. One of my good friends played ball in school and she still plays 2 times a week, even while pregnant. She is the mother of 5 boys. I can only think that her ball playing has been good for her mothering all those boys.

I look at other people I know and they have used musicals, and jobs, crafts, friends to get in the way of having children. So yes, sports and dancing could both be something that can get in the way, but only if you let it. I don't think they are the main cause.

I remember when I was a Beehive leader and we were having a night to teach the girls how to be good babysitters. In that lesson and in other church lessons after, we had girls say how they didn't want to have kids. They wanted to work so they could buy all these nice clothes and have lots of money. Sure they maybe would have a couple some day, but they wanted to do all these other things first.

The other leader and I just looked at each other with shock. We tried to teach these girls what we have been asked to do as women and all the blessings that come from that, but I don't think it sunk in. I think girls are just being spoiled too much and that is what is the main cause of them wanting to remain selfish. It is easy not to be a mom, it is hard to be a mom.

Emily said...

After I thought about the aggression in sports concept more, I just wasn't so sure about it. I don't see a lot of super-aggressive women, and women I do know who did play sports don't seem more aggressive to me than other women -- but I don't know too many younger women her son's age, either. Maybe it's different? Then I started thinking about the part about taking mothers & daughters out of the home and that seemed like the bigger problem to me -- that's where the whole dance thing didn't make sense because that will also take you out of the home, and I think someone also mentioned the body-image issues that come along with that. I'll also add the indecency of some of the dancing -- that just can't be good!

I think anything that makes our kids too self-centered is probably the biggest risk, as has been mentioned. ... I think anything that is too big of a distraction isn't good -- whether it's music, dance, sports...

I wish this whole mothering thing came more naturally to me. After lots of discussions, I'm just seeing that we're all different and some of us are more inclined to this role, and others of us aren't -- but someone's still got to do it. Didn't Eliza R Snow say - Women should be women and not babies. Sis Beck also said, "We have the female half to take care of, and if we don’t do our part, no one else is going to do it for us. The half of our Father’s plan that creates life, that nurtures souls, that promotes growth, that influences everything else was given to us. We can’t delegate it. We can’t pass it off to anyone. It’s ours. We can refuse it, we can deny it, but it’s still our part, and we’re accountable for it."

kels said...

I think one thing missing from this conversation is that although some women may not feel as "naturally inclined" to nurturing, and while "someone's still got to do it" anyway, we don't have to do it the same. I love this quote because it makes that so clear:

"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else." --Elder Russell M. Ballard, "Daughters of God," General Conference April 2008

If we worked with YW to build their strengths, talents, and improve confidence about their ability to have faith and do all things, then they will find their own unique way to be a mother! Rather than spending our time touting ideals of what a mother looks like, or exactly what kind of mother she should be (stay at home? part time work? full time work, full time mom?) despite the fact that we don't know the circumstances or inspiration that will ultimately surround her mother experience, we should spend our time developing talents and confidence. Most of all we should focus on learning how to receive personal revelation, and leave those personal decisions to the girls and their husbands once they have them. What we need to emphasize is that being unique is a good thing, and that like with all responsibilities, motherhood is also unique and we can do our best while still being ourselves.

Also, though I applaud Cheryl's feminist dad :) I was concerned by her description of how to teach YW about college and then motherhood. In my experience it can be incredibly confusing and harmful to plan plan plan and then give up all your plans if you get married. That is discouraging indeed, and makes marriage feel like a punishment! Instead, we might consider encouraging girls to make education and life plans that are accommodating of motherhood and family, so the transition (if the opportunity comes to have one) doesn't need to be so abrupt and disheartening. Here's an excellent article I recommend that discusses this approach in detail: http://www.byui.edu/perspective/v7n2pdf/v7n2_hurley.pdf.