My review of the first chapter of Vocational Guidance for Girls generated quite a few critical responses, to which I would like to say that I don't necessarily agree with 100% of every book I read... in fact, I would probably read very little if I only chose books with which I could find no point of dissent.
So, I'm continuing on to chapter 2 of Vocational Guidance, called "The Ideal Home".
"A historical survey of the home leads us to the conclusion that although times have changed, and homes have changed, and indeed all outward conditions have changed, the spiritual ideal of home is no different from what it has always been. The home is the seat of family life. Its one object is the making of healthy, wise, happy, satisfied, useful, and efficient people. The home is essentially a spiritual factory, whether or not it is to remain to any degree whatever a material one."
"First of all, the home must be comfortable, and its whole atmosphere must be that of peace. This implies order and cleanliness, beauty, warmth, light, and air; but it implies far more. It means a home planned for the people who will occupy it, and so planned that father's needs, and mother's, and the children's, will all be met. What does each member of the family require of the house? A place to live in. And that means far more than eating and sleeping and having a place for one's clothes. There must be not only a place for everything, but a place for everybody in the ideal house. There will be no room too good for use, and no furnishings so delicate that mother worries over family contact with them. There will be a minimum of "keeping up appearances" and a maximum of comfort and cheer. There will be little formal entertaining, but many spontaneous good times."
"The ideal mother, who is the mainspring of the smoothly running mechanism of the ideal home, will be scientifically trained for her position. Always she will keep before her the object of her work—to make of her family, including herself, good, happy, efficient people. She will not be overburdened with housework, for overworked mothers have neither time nor strength for the higher aspects of their work. She will know how to feed bodies, but also how to develop souls. She will clothe her children hygienically, but she will teach them to value more the more important vestments of modesty and gentleness and courtesy. She will require obedience, but, as their years increase, the requirement will be less and less obedience to authority and more and more obedience to a right spirit within."
I just have to say that, despite the fact that this book was written many years ago, I find these passages both inspiring and as relevant as they ever were. But of course, here we are talking of an ideal home, and we know that realistically, none of us can attain that. We can, however, have good enough homes - homes that meets our needs, and those of our family, within the limits of our time, budget, energy, health and situation.
"If all girls grew up in ideal homes, it seems probable that homemaking would appeal to them quite naturally as the ultimate vocation. Indeed, we know that many girls feel this natural drawing, in spite of most unlovely conditions in their childhood homes. Some girls are not fitted by nature to be homemakers. Some may with careful training overcome inherent defects which stand in the way of their success. Some have the natural endowment, but have their eyes fixed on other careers. Some have unhappy ideals to overcome. The fact, however, confronts us that at some time in their lives a very large majority of these girls will be homemakers."