I’m sorry, but I have to weigh in on Hilary Rosen’s comment about Ann Romney. It has touched a nerve with me and, hey, why have a blog if one can’t use it as a platform every now and then?
I get it. Maybe that’s not what she meant, but it sure is what she said.
“She hasn’t worked a day in her life.”
It may have been a commentary on Ann Romney’s lack of experience in the field of economics, but still, the comment packed a punch.
Why? Why would that statement create such a firestorm among women and men, liberals and conservatives? Why is this issue of stay-at-home moms so electrifying?
Because the decision to stay at home with our children or to spend time working outside the home is an intensely personal decision, and when someone makes a comment, even a seemingly innocent one, that attacks that personal decision, it hurts. Deeply.
There are a thousand different ways I could go with this blog post, but I only want to say this, especially to my many friends who are just now learning to navigate the tricky waters of motherhood and working and family life: there is no right or wrong way to work out your own family.
Don’t misunderstand me: there are rights and wrongs in this world—the Bible makes it very clear on those issues. And the Bible gives us definite guidelines for our families.
But we Christians—and I am speaking to those of us who claim Christianity right now—sometimes put some extra parameters to those guidelines set forth in the Bible. It’s like we want to add an 11th commandment: “your family shall look just like mine.”
In my lifetime I have heard things like, “You really should have more than X number of kids.” Or “You really should only have two children, then stop having kids.” Or “If you don’t breastfeed your children you’re not doing what’s best for them.” Or “If you don’t send your children to [insert type of school here] school you’re not doing the most you can do for your kids.”
And it goes on and on. The judging.
I’m guilty of it too. It’s something I pray about regularly.
But truly, I believe this, there is no right or wrong way to work out your family. If there were, God would have told us exactly how to do it. But he left some things intentionally hazy, probably so we could learn a thing or two about ourselves and about Him while we were working out how to do family life.
In the 20-plus years that I’ve been a mother I have . . .
- stayed home full time.
- worked outside the home part-time.
- worked from home.
- volunteered, a lot.
- thought that having two kids was just perfect.
- changed my mind about two kids.
- wondered what kind of mom I’d be to four kids (probably not that great).
- breastfed my baby (only one, and not for long).
- bottle-fed, happily.
- allowed my children to eat junk food.
- gave them vegetables occasionally.
- put my kids in preschool.
- put my kids in regular school.
- wondered if I’m doing any of this right.
My list probably looks very different from your list. And you know what? That’s O.K.!
What’s wrong is for anyone to look down on your list or mine for the choices we’ve made. And that’s my beef with Hilary Rosen. There’s just too much second-guessing the choices we women make in our lives, and Hilary Rosen simply added fuel to the judgmental fire.
Last week I talked with a friend who will be leaving for the mission field soon. She and her husband and two sons will be living in a place with one of the highest costs of living in the world (I can’t imagine having to raise the kind of support they are trying to raise!). To help supplement their income, my friend has applied for a job, but she told me she’s worried about her two young sons. Will they be O.K. if she works? (Her husband will be available to spend time with the youngest each afternoon.) What will people think?
I told her this: “There is no right or wrong here. Pray, and God will make it clear what you need to do.”
Friends, we need to release ourselves and each other from our own pre-conceived ideas of what’s right and wrong for our families.
- Whether a mom works outside the home or chooses to stay home full time for 25 years is not a right or wrong issue.
- Whether a family chooses to have two children or twenty is not a right or wrong issue.
- Whether the father stays home with the kids while the mom goes to work is not a right or wrong issue.
God is ultimately in control of our families. Let’s let Him decide how they should look. Seek Him, look to His approval, and focus on His ultimate glory and I promise you, your family will be blessed.
O.K., spill it. I'd love to know your thoughts. Leave me a comment!