Family, marriage, womanhood, a simple life at home
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
How should young women prepare for their future?
I got an email from a lady to whom I will refer as Mrs. V, in which she posed some very challenging questions. She kindly agreed to allow me to post her email here, along with my reply, and so I'm going to share it.
I've really enjoyed all of your postings defending mothers staying at home to raise their children. I so agree with all of your views on it. For me, doesn't it make sense that God would want mothers to raise their precious little blessings? To introduce them to His world? To form and mold them?
Anyhow, I wanted to get your thoughts on something. I always work backwards from the desired end result (i.e. - a mother staying home to raise her children and the father working to provide for his family) and try to figure out what is impeding that from happening. So in today's society, from the time our daughters are young, we are preparing them for a career. Of course education is a good thing. These days, there are so many ways to educate oneself outside of a classroom. So, if people are preparing and encourage their daughters to seek a university and post graduate education, isn't this setting them up not to be with their little babies?
One of two things seems to happen: 1. women are ambitious about their career, end up landing a job (often at the cost of a father out there who needs to provide for his family) and then they either delay children, or if they have children, put them in daycare right away as the child impedes the women's career. 2. if a woman decides she wants to stay home with her children, she just spent $80,000-100,00 on a career and in most cases is in tremendous debt, which is an incredible burden to be starting at the beginning of a marriage).
The other resulting factor of so many women working is that I think they are taking away potential jobs from men (and fathers). Just think of the jobs that would open up for men and fathers who are unemployed if women were home caring for their home and family! The family would end up being more stable, there would be less drop out among young men. Right now, the statistics for boys are horrendous. I can't remember the numbers (read it in Meg Meeker's book "Boys should be Boys), but basically, more women are going into professional careers, are being accepted into university than men etc....kind of depressing statistics).
Sorry for being so long-winded. So my question is: is higher education for women really good for the family? Could there be an alternate form of education? Maybe a 1 or 2 year program that is somewhat goverment funded that teaches practical lifeskills for being a good homemaker? Or other programs that includes history/art/philosophy etc.. might be an alternate solution? (although people would think I'm crazy if I actually said that out loud. That's the sad part, people don't even see a problem with abandoning their children to the care of other people. I know abandon is a strong word, but that's what I feel it is).
Anyhow, have you ever thought about these things? I know Catholic homeschooling moms who are encouraging their daughters to be lawyers/pharmacists etc...but it surprises me, because don't they think about their daughter's children and being home with them?
I think many things are very much backward when it comes to women's high education and preparation for a career. It's like women are prepared only to pursue a career, and not in the least set up to do what makes up the essence of womanhood: being a wife and mother. On the contrary, women are encouraged to get a degree which requires years and years to get, and end up to their ears in student debt - all too often before they even get a chance to understand how important it will be to them to be with their family, when they get married and especially when they become mothers.
Essentially, once such a young woman does have a baby and suddenly wishes to stay at home - not an uncommon scenario - she is trapped, because she has all the student debt to pay off, not to mention that she is expected to work now that she put all those years into her education. Furthermore, chances are higher that the man she married entered into the deal with the expectation that she should work, and it might easily be that they took a mortgage and other loans assuming a substantial financial contribution will come from her career. It's sort of a snowball - every part of the equation makes it more difficult for this woman to stay at home, should she wish to do so at some point of her life.
It doesn't mean that such a change wouldn't be possible, but it would be difficult, financially as well as mentally, and would require a great deal of commitment from both spouses.
Today's economy is geared up towards women working as well as men, and there's no doubt it causes the cheapening of labor and lowering of salaries. However, many women make poor employees, what with taking maternity leave and a lot of sick leave, and the constant - and very natural - mental pull they feel towards their families, homes and children.
I think that in a hypothetical situation, if suddenly the majority of women decided to pull out of the workplace, it would cause economy to undergo quite a shake, but eventually, we might all be better off.
I believe that the reason more women get accepted into higher education programs is because institutionalized education these days, starting from elementary school, is fitted more towards skills that are more typically found in girls. Girls fit much more easily into a program where they are required to sit and work quietly, and with longer and longer school hours, and children more and more cooped up, girls fare better than boys. It might be that the fact that so many boys are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD is nothing more than the typical boyish "ants in their pants" and eagerness to explore. I think many boys would fare better with more active, hands-on programs, than the system that strives to get children in quiet, large groups. However, that would require resources that perhaps aren't even present in institutionalized schools. The result is that by the time they reach their teenage years, many boys feel like outcasts and fall out of the system.
You ask, "is higher education for women really good for the family?" - I'm not sure I would put it this way. I'm a great proponent of education and a broad circle of interests, and I think that's good for everyone, especially in women who bring up their children and are the first (and in homeschooling families, main) teachers. However, I doubt college life and student debt are really necessary for a woman. Alternative forms of education abound, and self-education is my favorite. With so many informative resources now available, we can teach ourselves many valuable and useful things, and gain a broad and liberal education, if only we wish to do so. Many famous people never even went to school in the normal sense of the world, yet who can claim they were uneducated?
I doubt a government-funded program would do any good; I believe more young women should think about their long-term goals, and ask themselves: do I want to be a wife and mother one day? Will I want to be with my children, especially when they are young? If so, which lifestyle is better fitting with that goal? Will I still be able to do it if I spend a lot of time when I'm young pursuing a degree, or several degrees, and a career? If not, what can I do?
I have no easy answer, and I'm afraid I have to round up my email now because time is pressing. I thank you again for writing, and hope to have your permission to post your email (slightly abridged) on my blog, anonymously of course, along with my answer. I think it can sprout an interesting discussion.