All too often, when women discuss the downsides of staying home, they bring up the question of what they’d be communicating to their daughters by giving up their career to stay home and raise children. I think that’s a fair question. What ambitions do I want to convey to my kids, especially my daughters? Well, I want to send them the same message my mom sent me. Here’s what her decision to stay home with us communicated to me:
- We were worthy of her time and energy.
- We were so precious to her that she didn’t want to give up those early years to someone else.
- We were worth sacrificing for (because even as young kids, we were aware that we didn’t have a lot of money). Relationships were more important than money.
- An intelligent, well-educated woman can find fulfillment in raising the next generation.
- A well-educated woman’s interests and talents are not squandered on her children.
- We interested her; she enjoyed studying us and knowing us better than we know ourselves.
- Our education and intellectual development was so important to her that she wanted to be involved in it at every level, whether by homeschooling us, helping out at our elementary school, or getting to know our teachers and administrators in public high school.
- Time spent with us was a joy, not just a burden.
- Service to children, the elderly, and the outsiders (dozens and dozens of international students and their families) is important in the sight of the Lord, even if it doesn’t bring in money.
- We could tell her anything, because she always had time to listen. She was never too busy to talk to us.
- Just because something is hard and not fun doesn’t mean you get to quit. (This one was of course important in my high school and college days but oh, so much more in the sleepless nights with a newborn or the tantrum-filled months with a two year old!)
- Parenting is not a popularity contest, and it’s not about making the kids happy. It’s fundamentally about obeying and honoring the Lord.
Which one of those things would I NOT want to communicate to my daughters? It’s a pretty healthy list, in my view. Not once has my mother’s stay-at-home example served in any way to limit my ambitions or dreams. On the contrary, because I’ve seen and lived what it is to have someone be everything to me, I have higher goals for my motherhood and my children!