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!