Saturday, September 29, 2007

Unappreciated homemaker-in-training

Following the email from Carolyn, I received several notes from grown-up daughters who live at home and wish to focus on the home, and who are facing the same challenge from their parents – pressure to enter the workforce, go to college, pursue time- and energy-consuming careers. As you know, this is something very close to my heart, as it's basically my own situation. I'm sharing my thoughts in the form of a letter to each and every one of those brave girls.

Well hi there, dear homemaker-in-training! I loved hearing from you; thank you for sending your question! As you probably already know, my situation is somewhat similar to yours: I've just finished with college, I'm engaged, and in the time until my marriage I will be remaining at home with my family. My mother is very concerned about my lack of grand career ambitions.

If I had a father, I would love, love, love to dedicate myself to helping him until I'm married, and make this my most important job. I would love to be a stay-at-home daughter. Being a daughter to an unmarried mother, me having to earn money to support myself isn't even really a question. It doesn't mean, however, that I can make no difference in attitude.

The first thing I guess you should do is make sure you are useful and productive at home. If you take on a big part of the housework, if you show that your life at home is organized (this means not getting up too late, regular meal times, good working routine), that you keep learning new useful skills from home and don't neglect your capabilities, the pressure on you to get a job might decrease. You need to avoid seeming lazy and unproductive. Part of your parents' concern is due to financial reasons, of course, but at least part of it, I'm almost sure, is that you're leading an indulgent and aimless life. This is a myth that has to be shown as it is - a myth. You need to make sure your parents understand you want to be at home to serve your family, and not for your own pleasure, and you should use every means to show it.

And of course there's no avoiding the financial part. Staying at home and not having a job until you get married means you count on your parents to support you, so you should make an effort to be – and show that you are – frugal and resourceful. This means both savings - I do a great deal of my family's budgeting and looking for the best deals; work that would mean hiring someone unless you did it – for me it means big cleaning projects, cooking and baking almost everything from scratch, investing much time in organizing and improving home comforts; and your own expenses – you will have to keep things simple and be thrifty.

Also, you can check out ways you can make money from home. In the past five years, I've been blessed by having the opportunity to do just that. This is where every woman can play to her strengths and be creative; I tutor children and work as a translator. Once in a while I also do typing jobs for people who have trouble using a computer or don't type fast enough. Explore any skill you are good at and see if it can be made profitable. For example baking, sewing, various crafts can bring you a nice amount of spending money, if not cover all your expenses.

However, if after all your reasoning, your parents still insist that you get a job, I think you should obey their authority - just like I wrote to Carolyn who faced a similar situation with her husband. Fortunately, even if it happens, it doesn't mean there's nothing you can do.

You can suggest a 'trial period' to your parents. If by now you have made your work a valuable and important part of keeping the household running smoothly, I'm sure it will be missed! Next time you have to eat a microwave dinner, or the floors are dirty, or a certain need of your parents is unattended because the daughter who used to dedicate herself to home is now at work, might just be the time for them to re-evaluate their decision. Now, I'm not suggesting that if you work outside the home, you become a slacker at home on purpose. You should still try and help as much as you can. But there's literally no way you can continue putting in the same amount of work, and if you did your job well, it will be noticed.

And if you do have to work outside the home, the type of work you do also makes a difference. Your parents can insist that you have a job, but nobody can make you have a time-consuming career. You can try to have a part-time job; and preferably, something that would enhance skills that will be especially valuable to you as a future homemaker. And I think you should be particularly careful not to develop a career mentality that would steer your heart away from your duties when you do have the blessed opportunity to come back home.

Wishing you much success; your desire to make your life home-centered is praiseworthy, and I'm happy that you and your future husband decided to go against the tide and make it happen. I hope you keep me updated on how you proceed in this area!


Laura H. said...

Thankyou for that post of encouragement! I have been feeling that way recently, when I started going to college. I now know it is not the best thing for me, but I am resolved to finish what I have started. So I will finish this quarter out, and then find a carreer that I can pursue at home!

Laura H

Mimi said...

I'm not sure what you have in mind for a young lady if she does not marry for a while...
if she does not work at some job... how will she live and pay her bills...
I understand your feelings after a young woman is married.. she wishes to stay at home and become a homemaker and mother...
but if she has no means of support... would she not need a job in order to have health insurance and rent, food, etc. etc.

Anna S said...


I'd love to hear from you; I've been wondering how your college is going!


I think the ideal situation for a young woman is to remain at home, living and working *from home*, until she is married. I also believe it is the father's duty to protect the daughter and provide for her, until she is married.

However, I agree with you that this isn't always possible.

Anna S said...

... Or should I say: in today's generation, with our lopsided influences and so many broken families, it often doesn't happen, like in my own case actually. So, I do have to support myself, but I try to do it without giving up my focus on the home.

Candy said...

Very good advice Anna! I love your header :)
Thanks for the tip you left me :)

Candy :)

Anna S said...

Candy - I'm glad if I could help! I've been tinkering with Picasa yesterday - so neat. I made several collages, and chose this one for the header because it includes all of my favorite domestic things :o)

Anonymous said...

I hope this post will be an encouragement to all the young ladies out there who feel the tug on their hearts, saying "home". They can appreciate the work world, & they do not have their heads in the sand about the real need many families have for the grown children to be working at a paying job. But you articulated so well the contribution a young woman can make to her family, keeping things running smoothly (thereby enabling the pay-job workers to be more effective at their jobs), & giving to the home a sense of peacefulness. I hope many parents will pause & realize that just maybe their grown daughter doesn't want to get on the career track...& just maybe she'd be pretty good at homemaking!


Laura said...

Right. I'm a single woman who isn't opposed to being a stay-home mom someday. For right now though, I have rent, car, insurance, cell, Internet, etc.. to pay for. So I really need to work full-time plus some.

Anna S said...


Thank you for the encouragement!


I do hope everyone who read this understand this post wasn't meant to judge anyone's personal choices, but to show the point of view, and desire to stay home, of the young ladies who contacted me lately.

You know, if I had to pay for rent, car and all the other thing you've mentioned, of course the money I earn wouldn't be nearly enough. So I made a choice not to have a car (which is sacrifice in some ways, and blessing in others), to remain at home until I'm married (which is a blessing in every way, to everyone), to hardly use my cell phone at all (I charge it maybe once in 6 months...), and many other choices of a simpler life, which enable me to remain home - without being a financial burden on my mother, or making her work more than she normally would.

Terry said...

Anna, I think it's wonderful how you encourage young women who want to stay at home while not judging those who feel as though they can't for whatever reason. I think the value of this type of post is that it reminds all of us to be aware that there are alternatives to the lifestyle that is encouraged for most young women in today's culture.

Anonymous said...

Something else that I would mention as a possible compromise between financial reality and SAH is telework. This is something that my company has very aggressively been pushing.

This has become of interest to corporations for a couple of resons. The first of these involves cutting SG&A (Sales & General Administration) expenses. Work at home (WAH) means fewer desks and less corporate real estate. The telecom & computer costs are trivial compared to the costs of having armies of employees on the floor.

By reducing SG&A, they also reduce the off-shoring of lower-level technology and service jobs to India. You don't need to be in the office to do many of these jobs, especially given the advent of VPN, which makes it possible to securely port in over a broadband connection.

This has been especially effective with many service center type jobs- where people call in for customer service or tech support. here has been a huge backlash against outsourcing. One of the complaints is jobs. The other complaint has been the poor levels of English proficiency, especially pronunciation at these call centers in India- which incidentally tends to precede automation. This helps keep jobs in the hands of competent people. e other piece here is that it maintains high levels of English proficiency and clear pronunciations at the service level. This is key.

This has also garnered the interest of the folks at ConnDOT (Connecticut Department of Transportation). Increased WAH also takes more cars off the road during rush hour. It is a more family- friendly solution that commute shifting (beating or waiting out the commute).

Generally the way it works is that you go into the corporate office for training, and one or two years of supervised work, after which time you can WAH. I don't know what you think of this, Anna. I did think it a nice way for a woman to be able to take in some income but balance it with future post-marriage worries about family.

Tracy said...

I agree with most of your article, except this:

"Part of your parents' concern is due to financial reasons, of course, but at least part of it, I'm almost sure, is that you're leading an indulgent and aimless life. This is a myth that has to be rebuked."

According to the Webster's dictionary, Rebuke means to scold in a sharp way, to reprimand.

I don't think that too many parents will respond well to being reprimanded by their children. I certainly wouldn't. Perhaps they do need to have a calm heart to heart tlak, but there is a difference.

Nadege said...


I do believe that married women should probably remain home but an unmarried adult I feel ought to support themselves fully.

I am a wife and mom to 4 children including 3 teenage girls and I do believe that they would work if they were to remain home before marriage. If I were an unmarried adult living with a parent or parents I would be consumed with guilt if I were being financially supported by my parent or parents.

I know a full time job is a drain on my older and more fatigue parents and would feel that as an unmarried adult living in their home, I would need to cheerfully support not only myself but extend some financial help to them also.

Nadege Armour

Anna S said...


I didn't mean that children should reprimand their parents, of course - what I meant was, "work energetically to dissolve the myth that being at home, and working from home, equals doing nothing." Certainly children should be respectful of their parents, even if their opinions are very different. Though maybe you're right, and I should have worded it differently to avoid misunderstandings. Actually maybe I should do just that. Anyway, I hope you understand what I mean :)


This is my opinion and I understand you can take it or leave it - but the way I see it, on her wedding day a young woman passes from the guardianship, provision and protection of her father, to that of her husband. Until she marries, her father is responsible for her. I know this view isn't common in today's society, which sees the individual, rather than family, as the basic unit.

Anonymous said...

< If I had a father, I would love, love, love to dedicate myself to helping him until I'm married, and make this my most important job. >

This sounds like you are being influenced by the Botkin sisters.
This is a very controversial teaching around the blogosphere, and in homeschool circles. I am of the opinion that it is a dangerous and unbiblical teaching.
A daughter's role is NOT to be a helpmeet to her father-that is her mother's role. A daughter is a separate person from her father, and as such she has her own callings and giftings from God. She has freedom to attend college, live on her own, etc. It is not a biblical mandate that a woman remain in her parents home until marriage.
The Botkin girls, Jennie Chancey, Stacy MacDonald and their ilk are placing extra-biblical commands on girls and calling them biblical. If you are of this mindset I will stop reading your blog, as I have completely gotten away from that whole crowd and do not wish again to be enslaved with a yoke of bondage.
Here is a site with podcasts devoted to the whole subject of patriarchy. They will continue thru October, and the speakers will be addressing the Botkin sisters book. You might find the discussions enlightening.
Read down the column on the left and you'll find the podcasts.

Anonymous said...

I do disagree with you Anna.
It would honestly bother me to see a woman of 30 or 35 still living at home and being supported by her parents. You must admit not all girls marry in their late teens or early twenties. In an ideal world it would work to have a girl go from her father to her husband if she married young.
As you yourself know, many homes today are broken. I am familiar with the book written by the Botkin sisters, although I haven't read it and don't intend to. Your comments remind me of things I have heard of their "teaching" and I do disagree with it.
Those girls live in an ideal situation and speak only to girls who are in that situation themselves-living at home with both parents and having a father who fully supports the idea of his daughters remaining at home until they marry. This ideal is not the norm. It is also not a biblical command but those girls speak as if it is. They are causing much harm and confusion to young girls who do not have fathers in the home, or have unbelieving fathers.
I am sorry to find you are of that ideal yourself. I have enjoyed your blog until this point.
I find it deplorable that some fathers will not allow their daughters even to have a drivers license. I knew of one personally, a few years ago. I realize this is not the majority view but this does indeed happen. Fathers also are not allowing their daughters to receive a college education. They call it a sin to send a daughter away to school, or to work outside the home or to live on her own. This is being called "sin" in some circles and by certain people. They, of course, have no scripture to back up their extreme views.
If you are of this ilk, please let your readers know. They can then make an informed decision on whether or not they will continue to read your blog.
One more thing-the same people spreading this teaching around at seminars and such also want men to live at home until marriage. Thus, I know of men in their 30's still living at home. That is so ridiculous that I'm not even going to comment further on it.
Aren't you glad? :)

Anna S said...

Dear Jo&J.Lyn,

Allow me to make a few clarifications. The emails I talked about were sent to me by young girls who *love* being home, and are ready to make great sacrifices to remain at home, living and working from home until they marry, but their parents insist not only that they work -- but that they go off to college for years, and pursue time-consuming careers later. This letter was aimed at *them*, and I hope they found it helpful. I didn't touch the subject of girls would would *like* to go to college, but their parents are against it - that's a completely different topic.

And what's that about a driver's license? :) I never heard of it.

Also, while I highly respect the Botkin sisters, Mrs. Chancey and Mrs. McDonald, what I think on this matter comes from an entirely different background. I won't talk more about it here, but you are welcome to contact me by email if you are really curious.

As for adults remaining at home with their parents, it might sound unusual to some - but not where I come from, really. In our culture, it's quite common for several generations to continue living under the same roof for a lifetime - but adult sons will do so while supporting themselves of course, and helping their parents.

I *know* the world isn't ideal; some women might not have fathers (like myself), some will never marry or marry late, and there are many different circumstances. However, one of the sweet girls who wrote to me already replied to my post by email and told me how encouraged she is -- and this means the purpose of this post was accomplished.

Karen said...

Oh my, some of your comments were not so nice this time. I'm suprised people misunderstood you so much because you seemed very clear to me. Perhaps they haven't read your blog much, that must be it, since they didn't even know that you don't have 2 parents at home.

I also lived with 1 parent, except I couldn't WAIT to leave home and get away from my abusive step-brothers.
Right now though, I have 2 little daughters and my ideal for them would definitely be to stay home until they are married or live with each other. I can't even fathom how someone can justify sending thier precious daughter off to live in some co-ed dorm at sin university. I've been to college so I know how bad the dorms are. Unfortunately my daughers would be free to choose to live in one of those places but I would highly discourage it!

Anna S said...

Karen - ha! You should have seen the ones I *didn't* publish :)

I'm a fresh college graduate, so I know it all very well too. That's definitely not where I'd want to see an 18-year-old daughter, if God blesses me with children!

Betsy said...

I think I have three things to mention, but it might multiply as I write.

First of all, I'd like to say that before I was married, I lived at home with my family, went to college, and worked about twenty hours a week. I helped out at home by making dinner about once a week and by making fun desserts and such a little more often. I made breakfast every Sunday morning in an effort to bless my mother by giving her some Sabbath rest (at least for the morning!). I helped keep the house clean and I think my family was very thankful for my contributions. So, while it might have been possible to be MORE of a blessing to my family if I didn't work 'outside the home' or go to college, I think it is still possible to be a great blessing to your family while you also pursue those other callings.

Secondly, I was talking with my husband about this thread and he raised a good point. He pointed out what a blessing it is to have a wife who has been out in the 'working world' and who can sympathize and understand the nuances of griping co-workers, fussy customers, and demanding bosses (just to name a few of the trials!). I don't want to say that women who haven't ever had a job outside the home can't do this at all for their husbands, but I think that those of us who have experienced it firsthand are better equipped to encourage our husbands in this particular area.

And thirdly, here's an idea for those girls whose parents want them to get a job but who are having trouble doing so cheerfully. If what you really want is to bless your family, why not get a job somewhere where the perks will be a big help? I'm thinking particularly of working at a children's clothing store if there are little ones in your family still (some stores give a very generous 50% discount to their employees!) or working at a grocery store where you can get a discount. I'm sure there are a number of other good ideas, but what a way to help out with the family budget!

So I was right, I have one more thought. I would urge daughters to be very careful not to step on their mother's toes. I get a great deal of joy out of serving my husband and giving him a lovely home, and I may not like it if my girls tried to take on too much of the household management. So ask your mother what you can do for her so that she can delegate those chores which she would like some help in. If she only wants your help in a small area, be content with that and busy yourself with learning a new skill that will benefit you later on when you have a home of your own.


Anna S said...

Betsy - good point on 'not stepping on your mother's toes'! I think every homemaker has tasks she likes less, or needs help with, though! It's almost inevitable :)