Harvard SAHMs

The NY Times wrote an interesting article a few days ago about young women attending Ivy League schools who aspire to become full-time mothers.

Of course, all of these women plan to pursue careers in the workforce, thanks to their very expensive educations, and many of them plan to continue their very expensive educations in law school, medical school, etc.

And, eventually, many of these highly educated, well trained women plan to drop out of the full-time workforce to raise their children.

On one hand, I think this is great news! Women should be able to choose which career paths and child-care arrangements fit best for the woman and for her family. If a woman wants to practice law for a few years, and then leave work to raise a family, more power to her. I think it’s wonderful that this article seems to imply that women are respected for their choices and their commitment to their family – even if it means sacrificing a high powered career as an attorney or a doctor.

But, on the other hand, I’m not so sure that young women with expensive educations from the world’s most exclusive schools who aspire to be mothers and drop out of the workforce should be unconditionally encouraged in this choice.

For example, if I take one of the seats in the incoming class at Harvard Business School, or Harvard Law School, with a plan to work for only five or six years before leaving to care for a family, what are the consequences of denying this seat to an equally capable person who is planning on working forty or fifty years, and who would be able to use Harvard’s reputation and brand name to become the world’s most effective crusader for civil rights? (or, if you’re not a huge fan of civil rights, then say this person found a cure for cancer, or whatever you think the most pressing concern facing the world today is).

I guess my main concern after reading this article is that with so many capable women leaving the workforce, more women will forgo the opportunity to become a U.S. Senator or CEO of a Fortune 100 company, or the president of the United States. I think this country needs women at the highest echelons in business and in public service. But women who get to this level pay a huge sacrifice (granted, some women never want to get married and have a family in the first place – so I guess they wouldn’t see it as a sacrifice).

Should we even think about the consequences of women receiving the “best” (most valuable) educations, who are not going to use this education outside the home? Does it matter that so many women seem to be turning their collective backs on the workforce and choosing family over worldly glory? Isn’t it good news that society is finally recognizing that the most personally rewarding work is with your own family? I think it’s great news.

But, I’m wondering – why is it that men rarely seem to worry about choosing between a family and a high powered career, but women are still having to choose between these two options?

**SAHM = Stay At Home Moms**

162 thoughts on “Harvard SAHMs

  1. I would caution any woman who wants to become a SAHM to not go into debt for a degree (or to make sure that the debt can be easily paid off before having children). Otherwise I don’t see any conflict between an Ivy league education and becoming a SAHM. Chances are these women will not be staying out of the workforce forever, and their education will serve them professionally at some point in their lives.

    Why is this a choice women must make and men usually don’t? That’s just a basic difference between men and women. Women usually have a greater desire to nurture their children, not to mention that pregnancy and breastfeeding are sometimes difficult manage at the same time as a high-powered career. That said, I have known men, my husband included, who have chosen professions based on what would serve their family best (providing both money for and time with the family).

  2. One thing to keep in mind is that even people planning to be stay at home moms might find themselves needing to have a career due to death, divorce or worse. Secondly, there’s that whole period after the kids are older. Finally there is the issue of just education for education’s sake. (Something I’m a big proponent for) If you don’t go unwisely into debt then I don’t see the problem.

  3. Good for them! I think that it is great that they see the value in both an education and being a stay at home mother.

    As to your question, who is to say that they will ever get married, or have children? Things happen, and they may just go on to work much longer. And as Clark said, they may very well need to go back to the work force due to death or divorce. For that matter, what if the husband can’t find work? Or can’t work due to medical? At least with a profession of high standing, she will be able to support the family very well.

    I think that anyone who can make it into that kind of a school belongs there, no matter what their future plans are. I bet there are plenty of men who have gone to Ivy Leauge schools only to persue another career after graduation. Why fault someone for choosing to be a SAHM? Or, better yet, why judge anyone at all?

  4. This idea of a solemn “duty” incurred by the inestimable privilege of an Ivy League education (read a friendly irony there) must be the venerable League’s version of noblesse oblige. Which is ironic since, as I understand it, those marvelously privileged souls (or their parents) have paid heftily for their title. It seems to me that if an Ivy League education is going to be paid for in the same manner as an expensive sports car, the consumer ought to be free to use it however she pleases without sonorous pronouncements of “duty” ringing in her ears.

    I went to a state school (UCSD), and perhaps a case could be made that I have defrauded the state of California by never entering the workforce after weaseling my free degree. (Of course, my degree is in literature, so I’m probably being more altruistic by freeing up a scarce position for another of the hundreds of qualified, umemployed candidates.) But at UCSD we were never subjected to such pompous impositions of solemn duty, thank goodness!

  5. “It seems to me that if an Ivy League education is going to be paid for in the same manner as an expensive sports car…”

    You’re only a bit off on this, Rosalynde. It’s more like a home mortgage, both in size and duration.

  6. I thought it hilarious that a super majority of women in that article wanted to become lawyers. Although, it is a great career for someone who wants to just do part-time or occasional work.

  7. There were many interesting things in that article. First, what a benefit to society that so many highly capable women put a priority on motherhood. Only a handful of superstars will ever do something in the labor market with more impact.

    Second, the Princeton president, Shirley Tilghman made an important point:

    “The goal of a Princeton education is to prepare young men and women to take up positions of leadership in the 21st century. Of course, the word ‘leadership’ conjures up images of presidents and C.E.O.’s, but I want to stress that my idea of a leader is much broader than that.”

    She listed education, medicine and engineering as other areas where students could become leaders.

    In an e-mail response to a question, Dr. Tilghman added: “There is nothing inconsistent with being a leader and a stay-at-home parent. Some women (and a handful of men) whom I have known who have done this have had a powerful impact on their communities.”

    Third, I am not worried too much about the tuition debts of the women interviewed; many of them obviously come from privileged families, and they won’t be marrying men of average means, either. They have a clear idea of who they will be mingling with during law school and their brief careers.

    Fourth, survival of the fittest strikes again. In the 1960s and 1970s, motherhood became a choice like never before. Those women who choose against it didn’t reproduce, and now the daughters of those who chose to be mothers also put a priority on motherhood.

  8. Rosalynde- I agree with your idea of “noblesse oblige” in this context as a self-imposed obligation born of privilege, but I think it’s important to consider that a Harvard law degree can open doors that are much harder (impossible?) to open for someone with a law degree from the University of Utah.

    So, while I agree that people should use their degrees however they’d like, I think the NY Times article wrote about women at Ivy League colleges to emphasize the point that these women were giving up a chance to rise to the tops of their professions, and make lasting contributions to their chosen field. Of course, degrees don’t guarantee success, but it certainly helps a lot to go to the top schools in the country.

    So, maybe women who want to be SAHMs for a long period of time, SHOULDN’T take up spots at Harvard law school. I think that’s one of the questions the article raised. However, the article also quoted the Princeton University President saying that effective leaders are not just found in the workforce, but that many people who choose to stay home have made important contributions to their families (obviously) and their communities.

  9. Davis- great article – thanks for the link! Yeah, the NY Times article was wishy-washy in its “methodology”, but I think it raises interesting issues. As women are accepted into elite law school and medical school programs, I’ve heard “some” negative feedback that “these” women are taking up spaces better suited for full-time lawyers and doctors. But, as we all know, men who are doctors and lawyers don’t necesarily work “full time” themselves. You’ve got to get in your rounds of golf, and your blog posts, afterall.

  10. these women were giving up a chance to rise to the tops of their professions, and make lasting contributions to their chosen field.

    Horsefeathers. By educating themselves to the best of their abilities and then taking the time out of their careers to raise their children these women are doing what they can to raise to the top of their chosen profession– motherhood. The story of the stripling soldiers from the Book of Mormon and the rise in family problems we’ve seen since society started convincing women that jobs and worldly prestige were more important than family unity show us exactly what kind of lasting contribution a devoted parent makes.

    Don’t buy into the old garbage that a person who stays at home with their children is letting their minds and talents go to waste. They are doing the most important job there is and that job requires everything that you can give it. Even if you aren’t a community leader waging improvement programs in between diaper changes and loads of laundry, you are still contributing something of infinite value: tomorrow’s leaders and nuturers. Without them, what’s the point?

    There’s a story about a father who was trying to read the paper. His son was asking him question after question, so in a moment of frustration/inspiration he cut out a picture of the world, cut it into puzzle bits and gave it to the boy to put together. To his surprise it only took the child a few moments. Amazed, he asked his son how he’d done it so fast. The boy replied: “There is a picture of a man on the back and when you put the man together right the world comes out right!”

  11. I am not really shocked by the article. Many people my age were raised by working moms and many of them per the article think its not an ideal situation. I concur that its not ideal.

    Also this raises the interesting question of religious and politcal demographics in regards to who will be having children in the future and what impact this will have for the coming generations.

    Who will have more children? A LDS stay at home mom or a career woman who was married at age 35? Who will have more grandchildren?

  12. Harpingheather – ditto.
    Wouldn’t everyone here say that the most important thing for your education to go toward would be the raising of the next generation? I mean isn’t that why we work our butts of everyday to provide something more for us/community/company/family? Look at any studies performed on this next generation – they’re slipping in education, US being the the 10th country but spending the most. So it just goes to show that children are suffering – whether it be a dual income situation/daycare whatever.
    And who’s to say that these women with their Ivy league educations won’t contribute hugely to society – but in 5 years time? I don’t know many people who’ve produced much in the first 5 years after they graduated with their degrees. It takes that long to learn the ropes/climb the ladder etc. For the women interviewed all I have to say is..YOU GO GIRL!

  13. The criticisms at Slate of this article are right on. 138 students is a tiny sample—too small to justify any broad conclusions. I’ve taught almost that many female students at such institutions myself and I would say that based on my interactions with them only very few are not planning to have careers. While it is becoming “popular” again to desire motherhood, I would argue that most women at Ivy League universities do not intend to be full-time mothers in the way that Latter-day Saints imagine.

  14. While on one hand, it’s great that we’re quick to extoll the virtues and sacrifices of motherhood to rise up a righteous generation, but seems to me it’s the women who are, in general, doing way, way more than their fair share of the sacrificing in order to do this.

    To Adam Greenwood’s pleasure, and much to the chagrin of radical feminists (I hope that’s the right label – I’m losing track of which wave of feminism we’re in), the message that we should create a society where women and men have equal opportunties AND work together in shouldering family responsibilities seems to be getting lost in favor of the message that women have to choose between a career and family, although men don’t.

    So, I liked Harping Heather’s comment, but the phrase “when you put the man together right the world comes out right” startled me a bit. Women make the sacrifices to put the men together right, but it seems to me this is a never ending circle, of women making the sacrifices, and men accomplishing worldly goals to make the world right (of course, whose definition of “right” are we talking about?).

  15. While it is becoming “popular” again to desire motherhood, I would argue that most women at Ivy League universities do not intend to be full-time mothers in the way that Latter-day Saints imagine.

    Agreed. I’m a man, attended two Ivy League schools (bachelors from one, Masters from another), and it’s looking very likely that I will at some point be a SAHD. My wife has the opportunity to pursue a career as a patent attorney (while simultaneously being completely and utterly unable to cook or keep house!), and moreover, I’ve been hoping to craft a career for myself that will eventually allow me to stay at home and work. Neither of us has an interest in letting our children be raised by daycare, and since I’m in the better position to care for the kids, I have joyfully suggested that I take the burden.

    So sure, I’ll be a SAHD, but I won’t be a 1950s-era image of domesticity. For that matter, I don’t think all that many LDS SAHMs still fit that mold these days. Pretty much every SAHM I know has a part-time job, attends school part-time, or is involved in church/community service, rather than just “staying home” changing diapers and baking pies.

    But I can make a cook pie, and my ice cream is supernal.

  16. Er, I can make a pie. Me can type good.

    Also wanted to point out that, for the record, I screamed at an LDS girl a few years back who was attending Yale and said she wanted to become a “traditional” SAHM. I told her she was a waste of space and resources and should drop out to go to a state school. Truth be told, I’d probably say the same thing today: as she was a Theatre Arts major, I’m not convinced that her fancy-pants education was one that would particularly benefit a SAHM.

    (Incidentally, she stayed at Yale and became a successful musician, and is probably getting married next year.)

  17. Akash,

    You want to yell at my incredible wife for being really smart, educated and staying home with our four kids. What is more important? Our kids or some career? We feel that we have chosen our kids over the things of the world. Not working part time, not attending school etc? What about the other SAMS in my ward? Almost all the moms in my ward are traditional SAHM’s and are proud of it!!!

    SAHD. Do not get me started.

    There is a song that my wife was playing on the piano last night. (see she got skills) Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!

    Oh my…..

  18. Melissa wrote:

    The criticisms at Slate of this article are right on. 138 students is a tiny sample—too small to justify any broad conclusions.

    I’ve long enjoyed Jack Shafer’s insightful Slate articles on the foolishness of his fellow journalists, but I think he missed the forest for the trees. Yes, the article is filled with “weasel” words. However, it was neither meant to be a rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific study nor did it position itself as such. It clearly tried to explore a trend the reporter noticed among the students she communicated with (and Melissa apparently missed the mention of the 138 women students at two Yale residential colleges; as she knows we’re only talking a total female population of several hundred, so there’s reason to think this is a more comprehensive survey than at first glance), and what the ramifications of such a trend might be.

    I’ve taught almost that many female students at such institutions myself and I would say that based on my interactions with them only very few are not planning to have careers.

    This is a misrepresentation of the article. One person is quoted as saying that she might not want to work at all after graduation. Others are clearly aiming to work for at least a few years before becoming mothers.

    In any case, I daresay the reporter cites more evidence, in the form of both numbers and quoted interviewees, than Melissa (presumably not actively looking to collect evidence for the same purpose) can during her grad-student career at Yale and Brown.

    While it is becoming “popular” again to desire motherhood, I would argue that most women at Ivy League universities do not intend to be full-time mothers in the way that Latter-day Saints imagine.

    If Melissa defines “what Latter-day Saints imagine” full-time motherhood to be as “getting married and dropping out of college,” sure, that’s not what the women in the article are shooting for. However, that’s not what the article is saying!

    Melissa’s comments remind me of much of the blather that gathered around Times working-life columnist Lisa Belkin’s (in)famous piece on a similar topic from two years back. I invite all who haven’t read it before to do so, then try reading the many and varied criticisms of the article found around the Web. My guess is that the degree that critics put words and themes into Belkin’s mouth in order to knock down a straw man will astound you.

    Why is it so unexpected that women do and want things that surprise those who expect, nay demand, them to do otherwise? Tell that to my artsy college friend, complete with piercings and the requisite period where she was a LUG, who got married almost immediately after graduation. I’m not going to try to extrapolate her experience to women Columbia/Barnard grads overall. But if 60% of 138 of them told me something I might listen hard to what they have to say.

    Yeechang, who suspects those piercings came out pretty quickly

  19. I think the article is fairly useless, because 19 year olds–regardless of what they say now–have no idea what their future holds. I can see the ones insisting that they’ll stay home find themselves, in ten years, pregnant but unwilling to give up the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. I can see the ones insisting that they will work full time waking up one day and realizing that they want to be there for the baby’s first steps–to heck with the social and professional and economic costs.

    What I think would be far more useful would be to look at the female Harvard Law grads et al of 15 years ago and see what they are doing now.

  20. Julie,

    That is a legitimate point. Nobody unless they have a plan in stone know what they will be doing in 15 years. But it is an intersting thought that people are taking a look again at being SAHM.

    Although many LDS people do have a plan when they are 19 but the article is not about LDS people so that is a moot point.

  21. I think the article is fairly useless, because 19 year olds–regardless of what they say now–have no idea what their future holds.

    Thank you for that brilliantly insightful comment.

    I can see the ones insisting that they’ll stay home find themselves, in ten years, pregnant but unwilling to give up the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. I can see the ones insisting that they will work full time waking up one day and realizing that they want to be there for the baby’s first steps–to heck with the social and professional and economic costs.

    You say that, and not even consider that the one might very well counterbalance the other?

    What I think would be far more useful would be to look at the female Harvard Law grads et al of 15 years ago and see what they are doing now.

    From the Belkin article I linked to above (and which mysteriously fluctuates between free and fee; the text is available elsewhere):

    Look, for example, at the Stanford class of ’81. Fifty-seven percent of mothers in that class spent at least a year at home caring for their infant children in the first decade after graduation. One out of four have stayed home three or more years. Look at Harvard Business School. A survey of women from the classes of 1981, 1985 and 1991 found that only 38 percent were working full time. Look at professional women in surveys across the board. Between one-quarter and one-third are out of the work force, depending on the study and the profession. Look at the United States Census, which shows that the number of children being cared for by stay-at-home moms has increased nearly 13 percent in less than a decade. At the same time, the percentage of new mothers who go back to work fell from 59 percent in 1998 to 55 percent in 2000.

  22. So, we should prevent young women from attending prestigious schools because they will only end up getting married and staying home with the kids, when that class space could have been given to some deserving young men who would have gone on to be national leaders, if only they hadn’t been edged out by those women? Hogwash.

  23. Melissa and Julie (and others),

    The NYT article didn’t rely solely on a sample of 138, or only on a survey of incoming freshmen. The qualitative data is in the alumni sets: only 56% of female Yale grads work in their 40s, compared to 90% of men. And from Harvard:

    A 2001 survey of Harvard Business School graduates found that 31 percent of the women from the classes of 1981, 1985 and 1991 who answered the survey worked only part time or on contract, and another 31 percent did not work at all, levels strikingly similar to the percentages of the Yale students interviewed who predicted they would stay at home or work part time in their 30’s and 40’s.

    This paragraph from the article draws the right conclusion about the various data and surveys:

    What seems new is that while many of their mothers expected to have hard-charging careers, then scaled back their professional plans only after having children, the women of this generation expect their careers to take second place to child rearing.

  24. BTW, it’s great to see an issue on which BYU was way ahead of the Ivy League. For generations women have gone to BYU with the general expectation that their principal work would be at home with children, and were scorned for that view by the Ivy types. It’s nice to see the Ivies moving in the right direction. For once! (Perhaps I should be more optimistic — maybe Harvard will adopt an honor code!)

  25. I just read Jack Shafter’s Slate article and noticed that he ignored the two quantitative studies showing that female Yale graduates are four and a half times more likely than men to not be working in their forties, and ignored the similar study of Harvard Business School grads. One needn’t have studied in the Ivy League to understand why he didn’t mention the studies that completely destroy his point.

  26. Matt, thanks for bothering to make your points above on the survey results. I had read this article a couple days back, and I remember appreciating the inclusion of some statistics to back up the interviews. Reading the criticisms today, I thought I must have misread, but didn’t bother to go back and reread.

  27. Matt, John, et al,

    I know there was some qualitative data, but it wasn’t the focus of the article (which I had read) and that was my point. It is silly to discuss this issue by focusing on what 19 year olds say that want to do with their lives. When you only have 1000 words (or whatever) to work with, stuffing it with quotes by dreamy-eyed teenagers and burying a few sentences about what mothers actually do suggests that you are not serious about the topic.

  28. This past Sunday, I taught the 17-18 year olds about temporal self-reliance. The class is dominated by young women. I stated in able to be temporally self-reliant you will need an education or skill that is applicable in the work-force. They didn’t understand. I told them there are a lot of girls who choose BYU for one reason and one reason only. The YW agreed with me.

  29. I was without work for about 5 or 6 months earlier this year. My wife was able to return to work as a Pharmacist and support us as I stayed home with the kids and looked for work. It wasn’t ideal. Both she and I want her to be home with the kids, however, if she didn’t have her degree, we would have probably had to declare bankruptcy and had to move in with my parents. Not exactly self-reliance.

  30. I can’t say much now as I’m overcommitted today, but the real issue of interest to me is why a figure like the one Matt cites, “only 56% of female Yale grads work in their 40s, compared to 90% of men” is the case. Is this sort of statistic strictlly the result of the desires of college-aged women (regardless of what institution they attend)? I think not. I tend to think it has more to do with the fact that as a society we still haven’t figured out a way to implement policies that make it posisble for both men and women who are also parents to have rewarding careers outside the home. And since that is the case, women are usually still the ones who give up their professional ambitions to raise children.

    The original article (which I only skimmed) didn’t include the survey questions that I recall, but my hunch is that if pressed most women would like to have children AND pursue a career. The current institutional structures often make that impossible and so some women end up opting out of the less important of their projects. They don’t think they can do both effectively because the way things are set up now most probabaly couldn’t. As long as that is still the case it is good that motherhood is becoming less stigmatized as the reasonable and even perhaps the better choice. However, that there are still societal contraints which compel women to make this kind of choice may be understood by some as the frustration of feminist projects and evidence of how far we have yet to go.

  31. Melissa – thanks for your comment. My main concern is that women do seem to be giving up their dream of having a family and a rewarding career, precisely because the institutional structures are not supportive of a career trajectory that incorporates children. And the current structure is not going to change unless women (and men) who value family and their career choices are in a position to change it.

    With more women dropping out of the workforce, it will be harder to achieve a critical mass of women in positions of power to legislate change(informally or formally) to accommodate families. Our former governor, who gave birth to twins while in office, incorporated “family friendly” policies for state employees (nursing rooms, flexible work schedules, etc.). I know these policies would not have been instituted without her input and influence.

  32. Amen, Melissa.

    I am heartened by the fact that some LDS women are part of what I hope will be the trend of the future: highly educated and/or skilled women who are able to decide to work 10-20 hours per week if and when and how they want to. In many ways, that seems like the ideal solution. While I admit that it cuts out the high-prestige tracks for some careers, it doesn’t cut those careers out entirely, and will meet family needs. If the family decides to use that income in a way that means that the father can work 10-20 hours per week less, all the better.

  33. 1. Akash et al’s opinion that women should drop out of presigious schools because they are taking space was addressed and rejected (I think matt references thiss), esp. in the context of the law school. In fact, the easiest way to get yourself denied admission to byu law is for it to become known (somehow) that you support Akash’s view re: women, education & motherhood/careers.

    2. Elisabeth…what was that about women making all the sacrifices? A much better analogy seems to be the one used re: did HF or Jesus create the earth, i.e. both. Mothers _and_ fathers make sacrifices, and _both_ raise children. They may often have dif. roles, but let’s just drop the sexist diatribe that one is more important or discriminated against.

    3. Harping, Matt: Sounds like a good marketing project. Make a puzzle that is two sided; one with an adult male and/or female, which is easy to put together, and the reverse would be a very complicated image of the globe that would be very hard to put together. Story is nice, object lesson would be good too.

  34. #34,

    “Melissa – thanks for your comment. My main concern is that women do seem to be giving up their dream of having a family and a rewarding career, precisely because the institutional structures are not supportive of a career trajectory that incorporates children. And the current structure is not going to change unless women (and men) who value family and their career choices are in a position to change it.”

    E, Quick one for you. My wife stays home and we believe that we are following the prophet in this regard. We made this choice when we got married. So she and I frankly do not care if the current climate makes it difficult to have a career and be a mom at the same time because we are not trying to!!! And we think the prophets do not want her out pursuing a career when there are 4 little ones at home. If it leads to more people staying home and raising kids as we are taught to do at church than more power to the current situation in our Orthodox view. We see our kids as more important than any career.

    I am coming at this from such a different angle that its amazing how our perspectives are different.

  35. Melissa wrote:

    The criticisms at Slate of this article are right on. 138 students is a tiny sample—too small to justify any broad conclusions.

    then she wrote:

    The original article (which I only skimmed)

    Melissa, please, please go back and read the article before you post on it for a third time. Seriously. Anything else is insulting to those of us who have taken the time.

    Melissa also wrote:

    I can’t say much now as I’m overcommitted today, but the real issue of interest to me is why a figure like the one Matt cites, “only 56% of female Yale grads work in their 40s, compared to 90% of men” is the case. Is this sort of statistic strictlly the result of the desires of college-aged women (regardless of what institution they attend)? I think not. I tend to think it has more to do with the fact that as a society we still haven’t figured out a way to implement policies that make it posisble for both men and women who are also parents to have rewarding careers outside the home.

    To me, the simpler–and more straightforwardly-based on available evidence–conclusion is that there does indeed appear to be a lot of correlation between what 19-year old women at elite colleges want and what they end up doing in their 40s.

    For the record, here is the questionnaire sent to the women at the two Yale residential colleges. No, its questions are not written to precise sociological ideals. But neither it nor the article based upon it deserves the sort of loopy criticism the article’s attracted elsewhere. (Do check the link out if you want to laugh and cry at the same time. I especially love the comments that call stay-at-home mothers union-breakers and equate all marriages to legalized prostitution. No joke.) It really is the Lisa Belkin Times article all over again, in terms of the marshaled forces that have rushed to the barricades to denounce it, often sight unseen (ahem).

  36. Lyle: sorry, no sexist diatribe here! Women go through physical and emotional trauma to carry and deliver the baby, and then typically end up shouldering the lion’s share of child care responsibilities. Men of course sacrifice for their families. But it’s much easier for men to have a rewarding career and a family than it is for women. Sexist, yes. But no diatribe here. Check out the General Authorities for a good example of men who have demanding careers (heart surgeon and Utah Supreme Court justice) and wonderful families. This is not so easily accomplished for women.

    Bob: hey, I think that’s great that you and your wife have decided to follow the prophet by staying home and focusing on your family. Sounds like you are both perfectly happy with this arrangement. Did I miss your question? I’m not sure if you meant to ask me a question, or if you were just sharing your thoughts with us.

  37. Thanks, Yeechang Lee, for sharing your outside research in your comments to provide a better context for this discussion.

    While I tend to agree with Julie that 19 year olds have no idea what awaits them in the real world after graduation, these surveys of current college students, along with the studies of women who attend elite graduate school programs, show that women are significantly less likely than men to remain in the full-time workforce after having children. Is this a disturbing or heartening trend?

  38. Bob,

    “And we think the prophets do not want her out pursuing a career when there are 4 little ones at home.”

    Is it possible though that the prophets don’t encourage women to pursue professional ambitions with 4 “little ones at home” because of the structure of our contemporary institutions? Given the conditions that exist today I wouldn’t suggest any mother who cares about the quality of her mothering and its consequences for her children pursue a demanding career either. But, that is because of the social structures that are in place. My point is that the conditions that exist today are not fixed. It is possible for things to change such that women could be devoted and effective mothers while still pursuing professional goals. These would necessarily be major, systemic changes in society and would include requiring fathers to take more seriously their parenting role. The prophets are more likely to give us counsel on how to maximize goodness in the society we do live and work in than to call for such dramatic revolutionary changes, but that doesn’t mean that the societal status quo is the best way to live.

    Yeechang,

    Calm down. I did read the article—-skimming is a form of reading. I don’t have time to “study” every article like the one Elisabeth used as a jumping off point for this discussion, and I choose not to when they are poorly written and researched. These debates are incessantly regurgitated in various forms and are found in articles like this one every few months. Anyone the least culturally aware can discuss (and post) on the larger topic without carefully parsing each of them.

  39. E,

    I guess essentially I am wondering why it matters if the current structure of society makes it difficult to be a Mom and have a high powered career since from a orthodox view its better to have the mom at home.

    I am very heartened by the article. Any article that seems to show that women are putting children over high powered careers is a good thing in my opinion. Kids matter more than careers. Ask a 75 year old grandpa or grandma what really matters in life. They will say family.

    My grandfather had his 80th bday last month and the family created a huge scrapbook of his life. it had over 150 pages in it. Only one or two of the pages had any reference to the small business he operated for 50 years. It was filled with family photos from his 80 years. Now that is an eternal perspective at the end of life. Family not career.

    heck there is even a really nice quote from a prophet from the 1950’s. It starts out “no success can compensate for failure in the home” apologies if I mangled it.

  40. Bob – Melissa’s comment #43 speaks directly to your question, and I agree wholeheartedly with her answer and reasoning.

    Melissa – These debates are recycled incessantly, aren’t they? I was hesitant to write this post in the first place, because everyone trots out the same tired arguments in response, but I’ve found this discussion interesting, and enjoyed reading the comments today. Thanks for stopping by – hope school is going well for you.

  41. I see Elizabeth’s point that someone who may need the career edge may be denied the seat by women who are only going to be in the workforce a few years.

    I saw a segment about this trend on Sixty Mintutes and did not have the impression that this was the intention of a lot of the women before having children. Their priorities changed when the children came. They were married to spouses with very good salaries so they had the choice.

    I do think that it is ideal for women to stay home with children. In fact, I seem to get a sense from recent Ensign articles that people are not just encouraged to stay home with small children but also with high school students.

    Of course, what is right for the majority is not always the decision that a couple may reach after prayerful consideration.

    For those women who work, I think it makes sense to have flexible schedules that allow these talented women to make contributions on the best time-table.

    Having women in the work force has had its advantages from what I am told. My dad turned down a lot of promotions as he did not want to take my mom away from her family. I have heard with the trend of women in the work force moving up the corporate ladder that companies are learning that promotions do not always require transfers as oftentimes their spouse is not willing to make the transfer.

  42. E and Melissa,

    Would like to continue this and think about your response. It does sound really academic and very Ivory tower but its worth thinking about. I am in the trenches on this issue. One quick comment about this topic. I think that everybody who comments on this should state their age, marital status, number of Children and if they are a working mom, SAHM etc. It would be helpful to get a perspective on where the comments are coming from.

  43. I’m 27, married with two kids (4 and 2). My wife works part time as a pharmacist. Her being able to help support the family has been a great blessing for us in our lives. As I mentioned earlier, I stayed at home with the two kids for about 6 months, in between jobs, while my wife worked full time.
    This was as an eye-opening experience for both of us. We now have a greater appreciation of what the other does. Staying at home with two little kids is far harder than any career I could imagine. On the other hand, having to leave the kids behind each day was very difficult for her. We now understand each other a lot better.
    I understand why it is that when I get home, the kids are mine, and that my wife isn’t always going to be in the best of moods. My wife now understands why it is that I need to unwind after work for a little bit bfore doing anything. As guys, we often say we appreciate what our wives do, but until you’ve taken a walk in those shoes…
    My dad (father of ten) also lost his job when I was fairly young, and at a time when the job market wasn’t very good. He did what he could and even with a degree he ended up with a job that paid far less than before, so my mom (with no degree) had to go to work at the fabric store for $5/hour to help support us at that time. For most of my youth, my mom wasn’t there as I was raised more by my older siblings than anyone else. We did turn out okay, all served missions, married in the temple, all successful in our own rights, but I’m sure my mom and us would have preferred it had happened differently.

  44. Melissa: You ask, “Is it possible though that the prophets don’t encourage women to pursue professional ambitions with 4 “little ones at home” because of the structure of our contemporary institutions?”

    I think this is possible, and I’m willing to consider it. Do you consider the opposite as possible?

  45. Davis,

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “the opposite.” Do you mean to ask me if I would consider as a possibility whether what the prophets have counseled regarding mothers staying at home with children while fathers go out and earn a living might have nothing whatsoever to do with the the social structures of post-industrial capitalistic economies that usually require at least one parent to leave home and family everyday for long periods of time to earn a living? As though it is some sort of eternal norm that men should pursue professions outside the home and parent only part-time or less while women should, if they have children, not pursue professional ambitions at all, or if they must work, to do so only in some limited capacity regardless of the sort of society they live in, the temperament and training of either party, the number or age of the children they may have . . . ? Of course, I would consider that a possibility. I’m willing to consider almost anything as a possibility, but, if this is what you mean, I don’t think it’s very compelling.

  46. Akash et al’s opinion that women should drop out of presigious schools because they are taking space was addressed and rejected (I think matt references thiss), esp. in the context of the law school. In fact, the easiest way to get yourself denied admission to byu law is for it to become known (somehow) that you support Akash’s view re: women, education & motherhood/careers.

    Please explain 1) where my view was addressed, aside from the ridiculous ad hominem post, and 2) what you mean by the BYU admissions idea, I’m not sure I follow.

    For the record, if I could go back I would’ve chosen to study somewhere else (especially if I had anticipated becoming a SAHD, which I really didn’t). I’ve had the opportunity to study at a state school as well, and the main difference IMHO was the kinds of people I got to meet–not many Nobel Prize-winners at the state school, but it’s not like the prize winners at my alma mater really gave me much anyway. My particular gripe is with women (or, conceivably, men) whose goal from the outset is to become stay-at-home parents. Want to get educated, work, and then make a decision to be a full-time parent? Great! Go for it! Planned from 17 to be a full-time parent? Show some humility and let someone else take your slot at a competitive school. Someone else who wants to make a professional of themselves and support THEIR SAH-spouse needs your spot.

  47. Melissa, Elizabeth,

    I have considered last night as Houston evacuees arrived at my house all night your position on the idea that our current society structure is why the prophets encourage women to stay home with their children and not engage in high powered careers. I have determined that in my opinion its a pretty moot point. It almost sounds like something from a academic conference. You could say the same thing about the WOFW. man if smoking was not addictive and bad for you then the prophets would not have included it as banned in the WOFW.

    It just does not matter what the cause is of the teaching. Its there it works so lets follow the prophet.

    On a side note both of the familes at my house right now from Houston are headed by working dads and SAHM’s in the traditional sense. So there you go Akash. Three families in one 2100 sqft house with SAHM’s in the traditional sense. Why do I mention this? It goes back to my comment that we should divulge our current situation in regards to this manner. If you are not raising kids then you lack a key perspective on this issue.

  48. Bob Bell–

    I think the issue is a little more than academic; here’s why: we cannot change cigarrettes to make htem less addictive. However, I can imagine creating a situation where, say, Mom works 10 hours per week out of the house, 10 in (during naps, TV time, etc.) and Dad works, say, 10 hours out of the house and 10 in (while the kids are asleep). They have one full tiem salary, two part-time working parents, and a lot of family time.

    Do you think the prophets would object to this? I doubt it. Is this situation possible for most people? No. But it gives you pause when you are in a position to counsel YM and YW about their education and career path, no?

  49. Julie,

    Thanks for your reply. I take your comments seriously because I know about your personal situation. You are in the trenches. Lots of respect………

    In theory your thoughts make a lot of sense. (I would love to work part time and be home with the kids more. That would be awesome!!!!!) But only in theory. Do you actually know anybody that has a situation like that in the real world? I do not. (Am I in a suburban bubble of LDS SAHM?) I also do not see it developing anytime soon. Hence its a moot point in my view.

    I have served in YM for many years and will continue to encourage my YM to gain a good education and make a good living so their wives can stay home and raise kids like the prophets teach. My wife will continue to teach the YW to get an education while they prepare to get married in the temple and to prepare to be SAHM like all of the YW leaders in our ward. In fact our ward is very selective on who gets called to YM and YW in this regard. Our example says it all. Hard to teach the YM or YW about the proclamation if you are not living it yourself to the best of your ability. They will see thru it.

  50. Bob – there are a growing number of people “in the real world” who are splitting up child care and work responsibilities to spend more time with family. I know of a few couples who are doing this. But none of these families are LDS.

    The issue is that BOTH the husband and the wife need earning power and marketable skills to make the model Julie and Melissa suggest work. For example, if the husband and wife were both, say, lawyers, each could work reduced schedules (part time, or 3/4 time at a small to mid size firm) at different jobs, or share one full time job. This is not a pie in the sky notion at all, people today are making these arrangements work for them.

    But women need to be able to pull in their share of money to make this work, so they need to be educated, and gain work experience, to be paid enough. The key here is flexibility. I don’t understand why YW and YM need to be taught any differently about finding careers that will enable them to participate fully in their family life. Women should not be told to forgo medical school or other career options and told that she is required to stay home and take care of all the domestic responsiblities. And, likewise, men should not be required to work full time and make all the money, unless, of course, this arrangement works best for that particular family.

    The Proclamation on the Family does not require families to live and work together in a one-size-fits all paradigm. YM and YW should both be taught that their ultimate happiness will come from raising a family, and should keep their options open so that they will have the flexibility to work together to create and maintain a happy family – whether there is one full time worker outside the home or not.

    P.S. TJ#48 above gives a real world example of how a mother’s earning power outside the home can really come in handy.

  51. E,

    My view is the orthodox view in suburban LDS land. Its the ideal but does not always work for everybody. For good or bad it seems to be the prevailing view in the LDS wards that I have ever lived in. I simply believe that what we have been taught over the years is true and that my interpretation of the proclamation is dead on. I see the same pattern repeated over and over and over again with successful LDS families that send their kids on missions, and to temple marriages and then the grandkids. The pattern works and should be emulated.

    TJ #48 is a good example of women having skills and using them when they are needed. My grandma did the same thing back in the 1960’s when Grandpa lost his job.

    My wife could pick up and help out in a similar manner.

    I sense cultural liberalism in your responses. I am still curious what your personal situation is with children. It would give me a better feel from where you are coming from. I have 4 kids 5, 3, and 18 month old twins. That is my perspective. With that load it would be very hard for my wife to have a career right now. I am very open about my conservative values. Our politics are clashing on this issue as well. On a side note who has more kids lib members or con members? The SAHM Con members do. Hence they will always have the majority in the church. We could have another whole post on this issue. Now we can really talk about this issue and let the fault lines be exposed.

  52. Hi, Bob- yes, the orthodox view is very popular! And it should be, because the arrangement you have with your family is working well for you and for many, many other people.

    But I think that there are also many benefits for keeping options open and building in more flexibility into a family relationship. We both agree that families should come first, I think we’re just quibbling how we think the individual family members can work together to create the best situation possible.

  53. Yep families first. Under all the disagreements in the bloggernacle there are far more areas of broad agreement than not.

    I personally think that having an arrangment other than my own personal arrangement would have forced us to limit the size of our family due to the pressures of two jobs, careers etc. We would have for sure started later in life which in itself can serve as a limiting factor. My anecdotal observations lead me to believe that this is probably true.

  54. Bob,
    I think you are placing unrealistic expectations upon the youth. Are we telling the YW to seek only worthy young men who, oh yeah, also have a minimum earning power of $75K? Are they supposed to do research to find out how much their prospective spouse will earn? If not, what qualifications should they seek? I also find your lib/con comment to be irrelevant.

    To further my personal story on this matter, my dad bounced from job to job for quite a few years trying his hardest to support the family. When I was twelve I woke up for school to find out that my dad was in the hospital after suffering a heart attack–likely due to stress. He ended up having to have triple-bypass surgery and, of course, we had no insurance. There were six of us kids living at home at the time and we did our best, as did our mother. Two brothers and myself did paper routes for a year without getting paid; it was used for food, etc. But in spite of our efforts, we had a car repossessed, and eventually lost our house. Not good times. We all survived and are all well-adjusted individuals. We do look back on those days with a stilted sense of humor.
    Last I talked with my mom, we were reminiscing, and she apologized for what they put us kids through. She really felt responsible. I told her I didn’t blame her (which I don’t) but things like this shouldn’t have to happen.
    I told this story to the YW in my SS class and asked them what they would do if their future husband lost his job or worse, his life. Do they pack up the kids and move in w/ the parents. They said “no” of course. Yet they couldn’t say what they could do.
    BTW, my wife balances career w/ kids and was just called as YW presideny. “The times are a changin'”. If you don’t believe me, look at the last lesson on temporal self-reliance.

  55. TJ,

    The answer to this is you do need to take into consideration what kind of career path your spouse will have when selecting a mate. All these kinds of things need to be out in the open prior to marriage. Then you follow the spirit when making the choice. YM do need to prepare themselves to be the primary breadwinners. Read the YM manuals. My YM presidency encourages our kids to take a route that will support a family properly. I was taught the smae thing in YM. I would encourage my daughters to marry well and choose wisely.

    If times are changing on this issue then so be it.

    Your personal current exp with your family is coloring your opinion just like mine is. My wife is not balancing anything. She is focused on her kids. You cannot serve two masters effectively that is what she thinks.

  56. Elisabeth,

    A compliment: I must say you’ve handled this potentially divisive conversation admirably.

    Bob,

    You write, “I have 4 kids, 4, 3, and 18 month old twins. That is my perspective. With that load it would very hard for my wife to have a career right now.”

    If you’ll forgive my presumption, the number of children you have and their ages are not the only relevant elements of your perspective. Your upbringing, your religion, your gender, your age, your environment, your class, your politics, your education . . . . all contribute to your perspective. It is easy to grant that it would probably be unwise in your current circumstances for your wife to suddenly decide to pursue a career. However, there are choices that you and your wife made before you ever married and before you ever had children that play a role in your situation at the moment. There are different choices that could have been made that would have allowed more flexibility both in parenting and outside employment than are now possible.

    While it can be made to “work,” the societal model we are working with now is not the optimal one in my opinion. This is obviously true for women but it is also true for men and for children too. It is simply not the best possible scenario for anyone involved for husbands and fathers to spend 8-12 hours a day away from their wives and children. It is likewise not the ideal situation for women to be the sole caretakers of children with little opportunity to particpate in business, law, medicine, education, etc. outside the home unless she’s willing to ship her children off to daycare.

    Your request for personal identifying information is irrelevant to the theoretical discussion. I can appreciate the fact that you yourself may not take seriously an opinion of someone who doesn’t have children—that someone’s experience speaks more loudly to you than her reasoning—but I also think that is unfortunate. Even from a purely self-interested level the arguments of people who are in different positions than you are should matter because they too affect society—even possibly your immediate community (as a member of the church I will likely often be teaching children in the Primary, Sunday School and Young Women’s programs). It is not sufficient, for the argument, to say that this model is working for me and mine and that’s good enough for me. There are many people for whom your model isn’t working—even among members of the Church. That such is the case requires us to continue the conversation. Since it matters to you, however, I do not yet have children of my own. I am the oldest of eleven children of a mother who has always worked full time.

  57. I realize how my personal experiences affect my opinion. But what’s to say that what happened to me can’t and won’t happen elsewhere.
    BTW, “serving two masters”–pretty low. My wife works so we have food, a house, etc. not so we can have a luxurious lifestyle. She works to serve her family–as do I.
    Also, I don’t completely disagree with you. In a perfect world, I would be able to support the family alone (I am switching to a new job next month that will hopefully allow this) and my wife stay home with the kids. It’s what we both want. All I am saying is in today’s climate it is more difficult to do so.

  58. Holy smokes…..

    ” I am the oldest of eleven children of a mother who has always worked full time.”

    Now your perspective is clear. Its very valid too and adds much to the debate. You have a different role model then my wife and I.

    I can see why you would have some of the opinions that you have written.

    You are right that its all about choices. So we should choose wisely and look to other really succesful LDS families to serve as our role models.

    “While it can be made to “work,” the societal model we are working with now is not the optimal one in my opinion. This is obviously true for women but it is also true for men and for children too. It is simply not the best possible scenario for anyone involved for husbands and fathers to spend 8-12 hours a day away from their wives and children. It is likewise not the ideal situation for women to be the sole caretakers of children with little opportunity to particpate in business, law, medicine, education, etc. outside the home unless she’s willing to ship her children off to daycare.”

    Nothing will ever be optimal. We need to deal with the situation that we have RIGHT NOW and make it work the best we can. The prophets have told us.

    The dads being away all the time at work is very valid concern. I do not ahve an answer but absent fathers is a big issue.

  59. TJ,

    I am not trying to be low. If I offended you I am very sorry please accept my sincere apologies. Good luck with the new opportunity. It is hard to support a family. I know…..

  60. I have a feeling my comments will be very unpopular but I’m old fashioned. There’s something to be said about teaching your children that want to be SAHM to marry someone who has the educational level/ambition to allow them to live that lifestyle. Also, in regards to gender roles, the Proclamation states:
    “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

    So unless extenuating circumstances require a different arrangement this is the model we’re to follow.

  61. Anon-

    Thanks for sharing your views with us. I think this model, in particular, we should follow:

    “fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners”.

    Because fathers and mothers are equal partners in building a family relationship, this leaves quite a bit of flexibility for them to determine which arrangements work best for their family.

  62. I’d have to disagree, Elisabeth. I don’t think there’s a flexibility about deciding what is who’s primary responsibility. The language in the proclamation isn’t a nullity because of some other language in the proclamation.

  63. Adam, how do you define “equal partners”? And to what does “equal partners” refer?

  64. “…to what does “equal partners” refer?”

    It means that men and women should take turns bearing children.

  65. Mr. Bell, your attitude is exactly what is causing so many young people in the church today to feel outcast and unwanted.

    As was said before, times are changing. You are they type of person who assumes because it is the right thing for YOU and your family, it must be what the spirt is guiding EVERYONE to do. You and others like you, would do well to understand that each family is different and the others might be led by the spirit to do with their familys exactly what you were led NOT to do.

    The economy today is very different, and is undergoing drastic changes. The old model many of our parents followed: going to school, getting married, getting a job with a large corporation right after graduation, buying a house in the suburds, and raising our kids there till they graduate – just doesn’t happen anymore. You cannot buy a house in most markets with a salary of 35,000 (avg. college grad salary). If you have kids, heck, you can barely afford to pay rent in a crappy apartment with that (not everyone lives in Texas). Let alone with cars, gas, student loan payments etc. Now, if that salary in your lifetime only tops out at around 60,000 (following averages here), than providing necessaties for your kids and having a stay at home parent become mutually exclusive. Cost of living has just become too high in most parts of the country, and it is unheard of to stay with one company an extended period of time.

    So, you say, women should only marry those choosing career fields that have higher returns? Well, this will also bring everyone to a point where the admonition to get married and only marry those with well paying jobs become mutually exclusive. Not to mention, we should be teaching our youth to be more concerned with marrying a man who is worthy and has the same eternal goals, not to only be concerned with money!

    We should be teaching the youth (and follow the advice ourselves) to be self-sufficient. To be educated. President Hinckly said in my youth conference in 1995 to do what you love, but to do it the best you can. He said be a mechanic, but be the best mechanic. Be a school teacher, but be the best school teacher. He never said, choose a profession that will earn more money. And he wasn’t only speaking to the young men. Young women need to get an education, get training, because wether its the old death or divorce, or whether its just circumstances of economy, health, or debt, you never know when you will have to forgo your ideal and leave the home to work.

    To tell you MY perspective, I have been married four years and as yet have no children. Why? Because being a stay at home mom is very important to me, and right now I have to work to support us. I do not want to leave my baby and miss those important moments growing up. However, how long will I have to wait? When will I give and say, the ideal doesn’t always work, and if I want to have kids at all, it might mean working at least part time as well?

  66. If my wife working outside the home were violative of church policy, surely the church would not accept her tithing donations made on her earnings, right? Ergo, the church has no such policy, as any reasonable reading of the Proclamation reveals (of course, one can question whether the Proclamation is a policy-rendering document, but I will leave that issue for the new thread just started on this topic if anyone wishes to pursue it).

  67. Bob (#57):
    1) We have no children yet, but we plan to soon. I’m 28 and my wife is 27.
    2) The Proclamation on the Family states, “Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation [to the counsel that fathers should work and mothers stay home].” Me having nervous breakdowns in college and professional school probably qualify as disability.
    3) When I say my wife can’t cook, I’m not playing around. She is completely incapable of producing a healthy, nutritious meal for herself, me, or (heaven forbid) a family. She also can’t drive, can’t organize a household, can’t do laundry, etc. I, on the other hand, can do all these things well, but I don’t seem to be able to get or hold a good job, while she stands to get a lucrative job in law. Can you really tell me with a straight face that the Lord would prefer that my wife manage a household with her lack of domestic talents, and I try to work and support the family with my lack of career ability?

  68. Bob Bell asked, “Do you actually know anybody that has a situation like that in the real world? I do not. (Am I in a suburban bubble of LDS SAHM?)”

    I know quite a few LDS women who work 10-20 hours per week and/or from home: everything from custom seamstresses to computer programmers to pharmacists to accountants to medical transcriptionists, etc. So we’ve got the women’s part covered; what I don’t know of are men who have been able to gerrymander the part-time. In other words, we’re half-way there. You’ll note that these women have a specialized skill and or lots of education; that’s not an accident.

    (Just in case anyone doesn’t know, I have three kids–7, 4, 1–homeschool, teach institute, and write, no paying job.)

    Melissa wrote, “Your request for personal identifying information is irrelevant to the theoretical discussion.”

    While we shouldn’t ignore anyone’s voice, I think the personal information does matter. People with no or one chid tend to underestimate the effect that children have on time, energy, and resources. Similarly, I would assume (not spekaing from experience, of course) that people with teens and/or grown kids might add a different note to this debate–as would widows, divorced parents, etc.

    Another Julie–

    Let me state my experience so you know where I am coming from: for three years, I was a SAHM in California while my husband went to school. We had a household income of 12K or less each year (including loans and grants) and still had to pay CA rents, tuition, health insurance, and books. Hence, you will perhaps understand why I can be unsympathetic to the “but I HAVE to work” line. I am NOT making a judgment as to whether you, personally, have to work, but I am suggesting that that line tends to by waaaaaay overused by people who do not, in fact, HAVE to work, but choose to work to support a certain lifestyle. Again, I am not questioning your personal choice; I am simply stating that many people who make this argument are full of poop. Whether you are one of them is something only you can know.

  69. Another Julie,
    I doubt your arrangements are as inevitable as you make out. Its hard to have these sorts of conversations, because people like you and Akash who don’t like the Church’s model for gender and family try to convert any discussion of them into a personal attack, but it ought to be said that in all likelihood your family’s needing you to work and your family’s childlessness are choices, or the result of choices, that you and your husband have made. The choices might be difficult in todays circumstances, but they can be made. Lots of folks I know have made them. Which is not to say your choices are wrong–the ways of the Lord are mysterious altogether, and sometimes he has special projects for some that cut against the grain for the rest of us. But recognizing that the Lord sometimes makes exceptions doesn’t mean we have to throw our hands in the air and act like there aren’t general preferences, or that we’re are compelled to live out the world’s vision of life.

    Update: I agree with Julie in A. that there are sometimes circumstances where one *has* to. People use that as a crutch all the time, but I shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

  70. That’s childish, Elisabeth. I’m perfectly willing to construe the *whole* passage, but its silly that you refuse to deal with my objection first.

  71. Adam – I’m sorry, but you need to be clear. What exactly does “some other language in the proclamation” mean?

  72. “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

    This is the whole passage, Elisabeth. I don’t see in it your call for families to figure out what arrangement works best for them. But I admit to some perplexity in deciding how the first two lines fit with the third. I have an interpretation but I’m interested in yours.

  73. Thanks for the clarification, Adam.

    Let’s go line by line.

    “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness, and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families.”

    1. Righteous fathers have the priesthood. Priesthood holders “preside”. I’m not sure what that word means, exactly. One interpretation I feel comfortable with is that the father is responsible for making sure that he is in a position to bless his family with his priesthood power. This could mean giving priesthood blessings, overseeing FHE, or any number of tasks normally associated with priesthood leadership. I don’t think “preside” means that the father has “veto power”, however.

    2. Fathers are responsible to provide the necessities of life. Why is the word “primary” left out here? Are fathers “primarily” responsible for providing the necessities of life? Of course, most readers would interpret the sentence that way, but I wonder why it doesn’t say that fathers are “primarily responsible” for providing necessities, because in the very next sentence, mothers are “primarily” responsible for nurturing. Maybe “primary” seemed redundant here after using the word “preside”.

    “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

    This is an important sentence. Mothers are “primarily” responsible for their children. What does “primarily” mean in this context? “Primarily” doesn’t mean, of course, that mothers are the only person responsible to love and care for the children. I think it probably means that mothers have specific stewardship over their children for their care and their education (“nurturing”). There are many ways to exercise this stewardship, from staying home and educating young children yourself, to making sure your child goes to quality pre-schools (and Primaries!), and to overseeing the child participating in other educational and recreational opportunities.

    “In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help each one another as equal partners”

    As I responded to Ryan, I think “equal partners” means “equal partners”. Fathers can be primarily responsible for providing the necessities of life (finances) and mothers can be primarily responsible for nurturing the children, but fathers and mothers are “equal partners” in the family relationship. The family unit is a unit. Both mother and father should be equally committed to making sure that the children are well cared for and the family has sufficient financial resources.

    So, therefore, the “equal partnership” language at the end of the “presiding” and “primary” responsibility language informs readers of the Proclamation that there is a great deal of flexibility for the mother and the father to share responsibilities for both the temporal and spiritual welfare of the family, as equal partners.

  74. I am not the best communicator I think. You have all grossly misunderstood my point.

    Mr. Greenwood I have no issue whatsoever with the the church’s model for gender and family. As stated in my post, I said I am very eager to be a full time mom. However, as my husband has NO job at all, (he has an unpaid internship, 18 credit hours of school, and 2 other full time projects that are unpaid), I do HAVE to work. I just barely left school so I can work full time (no I did not finish, we just didnt have the cash flow).

    My issue was with Bob Bell’s statements that his suburban model is the best model. Maybe members assume this is the church’s model, but as has been stated many times, the proclamtion, as well as the words of the prophets, paint a very different picture.

    My POINT is, that there is no “norm” with some variances. This isn’t the way the church operates at all. There are gospel truths, and through prayer and fasting we apply them and do what is best for our family. We follow the guidance of the spirit. What is best for your family might be the worst thing my family could do.

    There is a tendency in the church to cling to this idea of the NORM with a few EXCEPTIONS. However, all this does is create petty gossip, devisivness, and an all around judgemental attitude. It is the reason couples without kids, singles, and other so called “deviants from the gospel norm” often feel they are not welcome are fellowshiped in wards. Because people like Bob Bell don’t think they should be influencing our youth. People judge them. They arrogantly assu

    What a self-inflation to think that whatever choices you have made are the right ones, and whatever others have done differently were poor decisions!

    In wards, especially now in these times, we need to be creating Zion. That means establishing unity – being of one heart and one mind. That doesn’t mean all being the same! That means not judging one another – I mean everytime someones experience is different from your own, do you go through some process to decide if they have some sort of “allowed exception to the rule” or are just making bad decisions? Do you honestly think Bishops of wards should deny service to brothers and sisters whos lives dont fit the pretty little suburban picture? Do any of you really think the Lord operates that way?

    Again, for the record, I think the most important thing a woman can do is be a full-time mom. Thats all I have ever wanted, and even dropped out of school to work so we can get to that point faster. But you would all do well to remember that everyone is different, we all have different weaknesses and strengths, different trials and tribulations, and we should combine our differences to create Zion instead of trying to create situations where everyone else is just like us!

  75. If there is a great deal of flexibility to share responsibilities, than what’s the point of the language that fathers are flatly responsible for work and protection and mothers are primarily responsible for the home? Are those ideals, notional roles meant to be waived, defaults, or what?

  76. I think that it should be flexible, but within reason. Here is a quote from Pres. Hinckley from Oct 1996 conf, page 67 of the Nov Ensign, given AFTER the Proclamation:

    Some years ago President Benson delivered a message to the women of the Church. He encouraged them to leave their employment and give their individual time to their children. I sustain the position which he took.

    Nevertheless, I recognize, as he recognized, that there are some women (it has become very many in fact) who have to work to provide for the needs of their families. To you I say, do the very best you can. I hope that if you are employed full-time you are doing it to ensure that basic needs are met and not simply to indulge a taste for an elaborate home, fancy cars, and other luxuries. The greatest job that any mother will ever do will be in nurturing, teaching, lifting, encouraging, and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. None other can adequately take her place.

  77. If there is a great deal of flexibility to share responsibilities, than what’s the point of the language that fathers are flatly responsible for work and protection and mothers are primarily responsible for the home? Are those ideals, notional roles meant to be waived, defaults, or what?

    I guess I don’t understand, Adam, why we should gravitate towards extremes here, when the Proclamation itself does not. The Proclamation provides built-in flexibility for a husband and wife to share family responsibilities in a way that accommodates their family’s specific needs. The point of the language in the Proclamation regarding traditional gender roles is to recognize that women and men have different abilities. But these different abilities reflected in the traditional roles of the man being the breadwinner and the mother being the nurturer do not necessitate that the man be the only breadwinner, and for the mother to stay at home all day with the children.

    I’m not sure if you are claiming that the ability of the woman to bear children and the ability of a man to financially support the woman and their children require that the husband be the only breadwinner and the mother stay home with the children all day, but if you are, you’re claiming something that the Proclamation itself does not claim.

    The bottom line is that children and the welfare of the family unit are of primary importance. The Proclamation is clear on this. What the Proclamation, and the Church leaders, leave for individual LDS members is to prayerfully determine which arrangements are best for meeting the spiritual and temporal needs of their children and their families.

  78. I guess I don’t understand, Adam, why we should gravitate towards extremes here, when the Proclamation itself does not. The Proclamation provides built-in flexibility for a husband and wife to share family responsibilities in a way that accommodates their family’s specific needs.

    Precisely. And yes, Mr. Greenwood, a pedantic implication that my family doesn’t “follow the Prophet” (#20) because our own specific family needs require a unique solution is a personal attack on me.

  79. Julie in Austin- how?? Seriously, a one bedroom apt. in most parts of Cali would cost 12K at year. Also, health care for a family of 3 would reach close to 8-9k minimum. And tuition? Well, tuition alone in most places is WELL over 12k a year! So, you can see I am having trouble taking you statement very seriously. It just doesn’t add up. If you want to get into budget specifics though, we can. I make 2000k a month. My employer does not offer medical insurance. My mandatory expenses: Rent, utilities, tithing, auto expenses (including gas), and food all equal to exactly what I make a month. I dont have insurance for my car or home or health. I have none left for saving. I live in gubment subsidized housing.

    My point? Get over your “I did it, so can you” attitude (this goes to everyone not to pick on Julie in A.) Thats just not the way life works. Quit judging, quit second guessing the doctrine and trying to advise the bretheren.

  80. OK, it’s been awhile, but here is what I remember: a crappy, tiny apartment in a borderline unsafe area for about 500/mo. Health insurance was only 189$ (if I recall correctly) because we were both under 30 and healthy. Given the meagerness of our possessions and car, renters and car insurance were cheap as well, but I don’t remember the numbers. I can’t remember what tuition was, but my husband did as much as he could at the community colleges (which are cheap in CA) and then went to UCDavis with instate tuition.

    I’m pretty sure that neither my husband nor I got a single new item of clothing during those three years. I remember buying those hideous cheap diaper wipes instead of the nice ones and scouring the Internet for the least horrid beans-and-rice recipes I could find. We just simply did not spend money. My husband biked, I had nowhere to drive to in our one old car because I would have had no money to spend when I got there anyway! I took my baby to the park; I read library books. Student housing (also about 500/mo) came with cable and DSL and that was nice and the extent of our entertainment.

    Then you write, “My point? Get over your “I did it, so can you” attitude (this goes to everyone not to pick on Julie in A.) Thats just not the way life works. Quit judging, quit second guessing the doctrine and trying to advise the bretheren.”

    No, I’m sorry. It very well can be the way that life works for those who choose it.

    I made it very, very clear that I was not judging you personally (I believe I said this 3 separate ways in the original post). I do judge the following: too many people claim that they have to work when they don’t. I have no idea if this applies to you, but you do.

    Can you clarify how I am secodn guessing the doctrine or trying to advise the brethren? Because I don’t see it.

  81. Let me add a few things: I don’t mean to imply that *everyone* can choose to do what we did–certainly if your spouse dies, leaves, becomes incapacitated, etc., you cannot do this. We also couldn’t have lived on 12K forever–replacing clothing, cars, housing beyond 600 square feet, expenses of more children, and many other things were not options. At the same time, most single-paycheck families make a lot more than 12K per year.

    My larger point, lest it get lost, is that my personal experience leads me to conclude that when two people are each earning 30K+ per year but feel that it is impossible for the mother to be home, what they mean is ‘impossible if we want to maintain the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.’ Which is, of course, not the same thing as ‘impossible.’

  82. Akash,

    What are you talking about? Adam has been more than clear on the fact that there are always exceptions.

    I’m on the conservative end of the spectrum and yet at this point in the life of my family my wife is the breadwinner. I lost my job because of a back injury and since have had great difficulty finding employment. My wife wants to be home with the kids more than anything, but at this point we just don’t know what else to do. That said, our situation doesn’t cause us to interpret the PotF differently than we did before. If my family is not provided for IT IS NOT MY WIFE’S FAULT! It just so happens that I married a gem of a women who is wholly committed to doing whatever is in her power to help her family succeed. THAT’S what “helping” means.

  83. “My larger point, lest it get lost, is that my personal experience leads me to conclude that when two people are each earning 30K+ per year but feel that it is impossible for the mother to be home, what they mean is ‘impossible if we want to maintain the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.’ Which is, of course, not the same thing as ‘impossible.'”

    Right on, Julie in A..

  84. Allow me a hypothetical.

    You show up for Sacrament Meeting and notice the entire Stake Presidency sitting on the stand. When the time comes for Ward Business, the Stake President announces that, after 6 years of devoted service, your Bishop and his counselors are being honorably released. You join in showing a vote of thanks.

    A good brother you’ve known for several years is called to be the new bishop. You like this man, he has recently served on the stake high council. The Stake President then announces the callings of the new Bishop’s counselors.

    One of those men is Brother Oliver. The Oliver family has been in the ward for ten years. They moved there when Sis. Oliver’s job gave her a chance for promotion; she’s a bank executive. Bro. Oliver has been a stay-at-home-dad the entire time they’ve been there and was before in their old city. Their children are two teenage girls and a 10-year-old son.

    This man’s calling was presumably the result of prayer and confirmation on the part of the new Bishop, the Stake Presidency, and the Stake High Council, as all counselor-to-a-Bishop callings are.

    Now comes the moment where the Stake President asks for your sustaining vote. What would you do?

  85. #88 Oh, I wasn’t disputing Adam’s rhetoric. Looking back, perhaps I misunderstood him, and what he was trying to say was that my disagreement with a certain person’s choices (the girl I mentioned in #19) led me to make a personal attack on her. If that’s the case, then I apologize. I also should’ve pointed out that the girl in question was a close friend, and not some poor random YW that I accosted in church, if that makes it any better. :)

    Having said that, I stand by my position. I don’t think that SAHMs should be uneducated by any means, nor that those who chose to educate themselves should limit themselves to correspondence courses or community colleges. But suppose a woman wanted to go to medical school and get an MD, but planned to become a SAHM as soon as she had a child. Can you really tell me that her abilities as a SAHM would be so enhanced by the MD that it offsets the societal costs of keeping that MD from someone who would use it to practice medicine as a career?

    To be sure, I’m not strictly equating an Ivy college degree with an MD. But while half of Ivy students tend to be privleged, between 1/3-1/2 are middle or lower-class students who are making great financial sacrifices to be there, and that college degree is a stepping stone to a greater number of opportunities than other less-“ranked” schools provide. Given that it’s the rank that matters at least as much as the quality of education, and given that there’s not an infinite amount of seats at fancy schools, I maintain that this rank is not something a dedicated SAHM requires and that there are a lot of people (including, yes, men who aspire to be family providers) who could get more utility from that kind of education.

  86. These discussions always give me tired head, but I’ve started following them more as my 8-year-old daughter gets older. She has three career goals that she trumpets to all who will listen: Become a doctor, be a professional soccer player, and be a mother.

    I don’t know if her ambitions will remain the same as they have been — obviously #2 is probably the most difficult (if only because she won’t play sports on Sunday), but I wonder about how to advise her on how to make the first and third ambitions come to fruition, when there are so many people in the Church who are eager to shoot down any girl’s goal that resembles education or career preparation.

    [Yes, it’s sad, but we still have Church leaders today who propose letting the stake YM have a career night and send the stake YW to go try on bridal gowns.]

    My daughter has a side of relatives with Ivy links; however, her mother and I attended BYU (which I consider to be an elite university in its own right). I decided long ago that my daughter would only be a better mother to my grandkids if she opted for an Ivy as opposed to wearing Burnt Orange (not that there’s anything wrong with Burnt Orange, or Maize and Blue, or Scarlet and Grey). Lately, my daughter has been on a “I want to go to BYU” push.

    I remember being at BYU and thinking, “those girls are just going to get married and never do anything with their education; they are just taking up space” — but I’ve repented of that. Almost 5 years of a Church calling that surrounded me with people in sudden adverse economic conditions taught me that a prepared mother is a glorious thing. I mean, we could send all of the potential-SAHMs to the LDS Business College and reserve BYU for the truly capable wage earners, but that’s hardly the approach the Lord is seeking. Again, I repented of my folly.

    But, I still wonder what I’ll say to my daughter when she’s 18 and is ready to tackle the hard sciences or engineering or whatever she picks to prep her for med school. I have an uncle who is a doctor who openly suggested that women shouldn’t go to med school, because it’s a waste of time (his words, not mine). From an economic standpoint, there’s some legitimacy to that. But is there a hidden benefit waiting to be unlocked? Obviously, marriage should be aspired to, but what if my daughter never finds the right person? Or can’t have children?

    My mother graduated near the top of her class at BYU; she taught briefly and then left teaching when I was born. 20-something years later, she reentered teaching out when my dad had to retire for health reasons. I can’t imagine how adversely my younger siblings would have had it if she hadn’t been prepared. My mother-in-law graduated from an Ivy, worked until she had kids (joined the Church during this time), and then used her experience in civic affairs and elected office.

    I don’t think that it’s wrong to prepare yourself simultaneously for two life plans; the preparation for the lesser one invariably enriches the first one. It’s interesting, as I hang out around my kids’ classes, how the majority of the very involved, very connected, very talented SAHMs who run the school district all either had careers before they had kids, or who had gone to good colleges prepared for careers (but then had kids and never started them). Do we really want our relief societies managed by women who never progressed past tole painting and high school? Or is there a place in the social Church and in our communities for the woman who could be a doctor or a lawyer, but chooses to help manage the soccer league’s photo day.

    The original NYT article passed along this question: “It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, who served as dean for coeducation in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

    I’d like to think that the return on the investment are stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger Church. But that might not lead to the alumni funding that Harvard wants to see.

    Anyway, I’m not sure what advice to give my daughter on how to mix studies and a goal to have a family. For now, she expects both to happen and expects to succeed at both. I imagine I’ll figure it out when the time comes. For now, I tell my daughter about college and studies and how to get good grades (which she does) and I leave the example of being a mother to my wife, and I pray that one will influence the other.

  87. queno–

    Nice post. This is what I would tell a YW: that she needs to plan her education so that it will work in ALL of the following three scenarios:

    (1) she becomes a full time mother (huge debt from an education would be a bad idea)
    (2) she is a mother and needs/wants to work part-time (certain jobs are more family-friendly than others. K12 education is a particularly poor choice, nursing a good one. Med school is fine–ER doc probably not the best speciality, tho. Law school is fine–but she may be doing private contract work, not one of the big firms, etc.)
    (3) she works full time (because she is single, infertile, husband dies or leaves, etc.) (She will probably want a career or skill–not low wage, low skill, etc., jobs for the rest of her life.)

  88. “It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, who served as dean for coeducation in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.”

    I think this is an interesting question. And having had the privilege of getting to know Ms. Lewis and her family, I can say that her own educational opportunities and accomplishments have served her husband and her two bright and well-adjusted daughters extremely well. Thanks for sharing this quote!

    As to to the substance of the comment above, I agree with Julie. Hmmm. I seem to be writing that a lot lately. I think daughters should be encouraged to be self-sufficient and to pursue career goals. There are many interesting jobs nowadays that offer reduced and part time schedules to accommodate family needs and responsibilities.

  89. Akash #18 Good for that girl, maybe she will teach her children to find joy in music and to love song. I wish I had a degree in music from Yale. I would so kick butt in the “teaching my kids music” department.

    #67 Elisabeth, I agree totally. I think there’s room in the proclamation for what you describe.

    Akash, I think it’s great if you and your wife have worked things out.

    Looking at things in an eternal perspective, I think Heavenly Father does as much nurturing as Heavenly Mother.

    But I think it’s important for the mom to be home, if it’s possible. To hold down the fort, as it were. And if “mom” is dad, so be it.

  90. “What the Proclamation, and the Church leaders, leave for individual LDS members is to prayerfully determine which arrangements are best for meeting the spiritual and temporal needs of their children and their families.”

    Elizabeth, lets ignore your ad hominems and stick to the Proclamation. My question for you is, how would your interpretation of the Proclamation, quoted above, be any different if the fathers’ and mothers’ responsibility language were eliminated? I have trouble accepting your interpretation as reasonable because I don’t see how its influenced by that portion of the text. Telling me how your interpretation would be different if that portion of the text were excised will help me see what meaning you give to it. Thanks.

  91. Does anyone recall the Ensign article, I can’t remember the exact title, but it was something like “Grandma killed the rattlesnakes?” Maybe it was Mother.

    It was a very good treatment about the talents that each parent possesses and how they balance each other.

  92. Adam, Elisabeth spells her name with an “s.” Just for future reference.

    It feels like you’re picking on her, which from my experience, you’re not that kind of guy, but it’s obvious you’re frustrated, allowing for my early senility problem which sometimes I get very confused. But still…I’ve never heard that tone from you, not even when I said downtown Salt Lake was a ghetto, which I still believe.

    Why do you feel so bound to the letter of the law a la proclamation and refuse to see her point that there must be flexibility? If I missed the point altogether, just forgive me.

    I actually agree with both of you, which is possible. I think the mom in the home is ideal, me and my husband, who I like at the moment, have really strict divisions of jobs. I think that’s good. But he makes pie and does the dishes and irons his shirts (over–he’s picky). I would be the slob who watches TV and am more strict with the kids.

    I think the operative part is BOTH parents in the home working for the family.

    Anyway, not picking on you, just an observation. Elisabeth with an “s” not Liza with a “z.”

  93. hhmm, even tho i don’t agree with adam, i think he states his position in #97 in an exceptionally respectful and reasonable way

  94. Adam- If the “responsibility” language were eliminated, so that the Proclamation read only that the mother and father were “equal partners” (is this what you mean in comment #97?), the Proclamation would read much differently, although I’m not sure the practical effect of this change would be that different.

    For example, without the language on traditional gender roles, I could see that people might interpret the Proclamation to mean that the Church encourages women and men (“as equal partners”) to determine for themselves how to divide responsibilities to provide for and nurture their family, and that the man didn’t necessarily have to be the sole breadwinner and the woman the “primary†caretaker.

    Although this may seem like a big leap from the current situation, statements from Church leaders since the Proclamation was issued in 1995, have consistently encouraged women to become well educated, and to use their talents to enrich others. President Hinckley specifically praised the efforts of his competent nurse, who was also a mother. I think the Church is moving towards acknowledging that women working outside the home is not only a necessity in some cases, but can enrich the family and the community as a whole.

    So, removing the traditional gender role language, I think, wouldn’t have much of a practical effect on how family structure is evolving.

    However, I’ve wondered how many women, who have made the sacrifice to stay home with their children, would feel if the Church decided to remove the traditional gender role language from the Proclamation. Perhaps removing the language from the Proclamation would make women who stay at home feel that their efforts are not as valued as paid work, but I doubt it.

    And I’m not sure what you mean by my “ad hominems”. The language you quoted as an example was certainly not attacking you or anyone else. If you are using the term “ad hominem” in the sense of appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason, I think it’s a bit unrealistic of you to expect people to keep their opinions and interpretations to themselves in a discussion regarding the Proclamation. Especially since the specific wording of the Proclamation is, as you yourself have pointed out, ambiguous.

    annegb – thanks for defending the integrity of my name against Adam’s nefarious plot to mold it into its “traditional” spelling. And good luck with your daughter’s wedding this weekend!

  95. I’m sorry for this change of topic, but as I re-read Adam’s posts, they are respectful. I have a terrible bias, I think men should be nicer than women. My husband never cusses at me, but I call him all kinds of names. And that seems okay. It seems feminine to throw temper tantrums–I think I’m damaged in that way. I must ponder…

    I’ve never noticed you being rude, Adam, really. Like I said, I agree with you both. :)

  96. #90,

    Raise the hand in support. The Lord can and will call whomever he wants. IF its good enough for local leadership its good enough for me. I would ask if anybody has ever seen this scenario with their own eyes. I have not.

    #94. Julie sums up why the prophets encourage women to become educated very well. You never know what will happen thru death, disability infertility etc. Also Julie has sacrificed a great deal to be in the position that she is in.

    Julie is Austin has an awesome perspective on this issue cause she has done it and has the experience of following the prophet and I think based on her posts here really understands the issues involved. When you have multiple kids your perspective is different. Its not theory anymore. You love the kids so much that you want whats best and will sacrifice a great deal for them.

    I recall a couple in our chicago ward who were both well educated business people. They were very good looking well off people. They had a great life and she was a VP at a fortune 500 Company. Trips to the bahamas, closets full of designer clothes. They had a very derisive attitude towards the SAHM in our ward. Then one day she was pregnant. They continued to talk down about SAHM (including to the YW) and talked up the virtues of day care. Then the baby came. He was perfect. The mom suddenly had a change of heart. She quit her job they sold their expensive house and their entire lives changed just like that. She made an apology to the YW for her attitude soon after this. She said that she had been wrong that her son was more important than her career and all the $$. I salute them. They now have three kids and live in a much cheaper house and drive older cars. Their reward will be in heaven

    I am going to continue to defend people like my friends in Chicago who made great sacrifices to follow the prophet. I really believe that kids are more important than anything else. Careers, self fulfillment, convenience, Personal politics. I think we have a template to follow from God from his prophets and that the template works.

  97. Bob, I’m wondering, since you put so much stock in direct personal experience as the best basis of an informed position, whether you think men are capable of formulating legitimate positions on controversial issues relating to pregnancy and childbirth?

  98. 106.

    I think that they can have legit positions but that pregnancy and childbirth are in the hands of the women that are being pregnant and giving birth. Any male policy maker must listen carefully to the women that are actually doing the hard work in this regard. Also women have a direct link with god in the creation on life and they receive in my opinion spiritual direction on preg and childbirth. We should look to women who have been there and done that. Same with family structure

    When my wife is preg and delivering (3 pregs and 4 kids) I consider her in charge and turn into a yes man. I also defer to her in child rearing situations as well. She is with them all day and there is nothing worse than having a situation with a child all day and then having daddie come home and ruin the situation.

  99. #106,

    Also there is nothing worse than a male OBYGYN that does not listen to his female patients. Has he ever been pregnant or had a baby? (yes he has seen lots of pregs and deliveries) There is a lot to be said about actual real life exp.

  100. “So, removing the traditional gender role language, I think, wouldn’t have much of a practical effect on how family structure is evolving.”

    This and other statements in your response fit with my suspicion that your interpretation is largely uninfluenced by the ‘responsibilities’ language. I am therefore unable to accept it.

    You are correct that there were no ad hominems in the language I quoted.

  101. If you go back to the New York Times link, there is a link to an update where the reporter gives more details about how she got her information.

  102. Just out of curiosity, why is it that we assume decisisions between motherhood involve all or nothing (or, the alternate of the impossible super/working mom)?

    I know TONS of women who have been “traditional LDS SAHMs” at when you really get below the short version of their lives, you realize that they have done LOTS of different things over the course of their lives from working out of their home (like my mother who taught piano lessons), going back to school when the kids left home, marrying later in life and then putting careers on hold/back burner/etc to raise kids, etc. etc. etc. If we are ever going to truly recognize the value of women in society (and, i would argue, by extention the value of motherhood, fatherhood & families), we have to allow our language to embrace complexity and varity without making black and white judgements. In short, lets deal with real life as much as simplified ideals.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is value in ideals and unchanging principles. But why don’t we start adding an element of reality (and not tv-esque “reality”) into the discussion. We as women don’t have a CHOICE, we have many CHOICES and no single one really determines all of who we are or how we value motherhood.

  103. I am going to continue to defend people like my friends in Chicago who made great sacrifices to follow the prophet. I really believe that kids are more important than anything else.

    Well, there you have it. Looks like Bob is definitiely one of those who is “bothered” by the two-career families in the church, who are not “following the prophet,” apparently, and who believe their kids are not more important than their careers. Sanctimonious, judgmental attitudes like this one are one reason so many people who do not fit the cookie-cutter mold of modern Mormonism eschew church activity, IMHO.

  104. One thing that I’ve been thinking about, but neglected to focus on, is that men get a raw deal sometimes by being solely responsible for the financial welfare of the family. Most people don’t love their jobs, and men sticking it out 8 hours or more each day at a job they don’t like much, but which pays the bills, is not the best arrangement in the world. I know a few men who would prefer their wives to work to ease the financial burden on the family, especially after the children are in school.

    Adam, I’m not surprised that you don’t agree with me. But we’ll always have our mutual affection for cheetos in common.

  105. Eric,

    Should we drop the whole ideal that moms who can should stay home? Should we drop the teaching to avoid offending people? Lots of our teaching, doctrines are offensive to wide audiences. Can those that believe in this teaching have a forum? Or should they be quiet to avoid offense?

    If the teaching is valid then lets discuss it. If the teaching is not valid then explain why the conventional LDS teaching in this area is wrong or evolving. Some of the others like Julie and Elizabeth and Melissa have made compelling arguments of how they see this issue. I accept their fellowship in the church and do not see them as heretics as you implied.

    I do believe that people can deviate from the norm and still be on the correct path. Sometimes the spirit prompts people to do things that defies the conventional LDS teaching. I know a woman personally that was told in her PAT blessing that she should marry a non LDS man. Her mom almost fainted when she read it. She followed the blessing married a non -member and he joined the church.

    How come we cannot discuss this issue with our cards on the table?

  106. “One thing that I’ve been thinking about, but neglected to focus on, is that men get a raw deal sometimes by being solely responsible for the financial welfare of the family. Most people don’t love their jobs, and men sticking it out 8 hours or more each day at a job they don’t like much, but which pays the bills, is not the best arrangement in the world. I know a few men who would prefer their wives to work to ease the financial burden on the family, especially after the children are in school.”

    Lots of truth in this. After the kids are in school is really a grey area.

  107. “Sanctimonious, judgmental attitudes like this one are one reason so many people who do not fit the cookie-cutter mold of modern Mormonism eschew church activity, IMHO.”

    People who don’t like church standards often do slip away from activity. One solution, yours, is to relax those standards. An ugly version of that solution, also yours, unfortunately, is too shrilly condemn for shrill condemnation saints who uphold the standards.

  108. I do believe that people can deviate from the norm and still be on the correct path. Sometimes the spirit prompts people to do things that defies the conventional LDS teaching.

    This is good. But your comments that such people are unorthodox (in the other thread) and your implication that such are not following the prophet and don’t think their kids are as important as SAHMs do (in post # 105) led me to think that you see two-career families as second-class citizens in the kingdom.

    There are ways to present the ideal without giving offense. And there are doctrines on which we need not compromise simply to avoid offending those who disagree; hwoever, I would say that this is a cultural issue and not a hard gosepl doctrine–on such matters we should strive for tolerance and acceptance of a variety of viewpoints and practices.

    And I have no desire to stop anyone from expressing thier viewpoint. To the contrary, I think we need to hear more voices and more opinions, not fewer. But the idea that those who espouse the more “traditional” viewpoints in the church are somehow left without a voice is, I think, on its face, contrary to all my experience in the church.

  109. 116:

    So now two-income families are not upholding the “standards” of the church. Can you point to an authoritative statement to support your reactionary position?

  110. “led me to think that you see two-career families as second-class citizens in the kingdom.” Nobody that I know believes this and I am in a bubble of SAHM in our ward. We even have moms who have walked away from law careers here in my area. I would say that I am disappointed sometimes in the choices that people make in this area. My wife and I were disappointed in our friend in Chicago and then elated when she had such a change of heart. We were in shock over the 200K salary she walked away from. The beautiful home and fancy cars. She made more than twice as much as her hubby!!

    I am also proud of my sister in law who also walked away from a nice salary as well.

    Lets not be afraid of the ideal. If we are afraid of it because we will offend then we will not teach it and then this ideal will just become another lifestyle choice.

  111. I think there a points that we would likely all agree upon. I think all of concede that there are times when it is necessary for a woman to work outside of the home. I also think we agree that if staying at home is an option that works for a family and that is the choice of the woman that it is a good thing.

    Where we may disagree is that a woman should seek to manage a career and her role as motherhood if there is not a need for her to work outside of the home.

    However, I do not think any more discussion on the matter is going to change anybodies mind as it has all been said again and again.

  112. Just to clarify, when I said “we” may agree in the context of a woman working outside of the home if their is not a financial need, I was speaking of some who have posted on the thread and was not including myself in the “we” or those who hold opposing views.

  113. Eric S.,

    When you can stop putting standards in quote marks get back to me.

    Meanwhile I’ll be doing my best to find the revelation where the church condemned ‘reactionary’ views like thinking one-income families are best.

  114. Bob, re #105:

    Yes. I based the hypothetical on a man who was in the Bishopric of my ward when I moved here and was retained as first counselor when the new bishop was called. I changed his name, but the family situation was accurate.

    After many years of devoted service he was offered an honorable release from that calling. We’re no longer in the same ward (ward splits) but I consider him to be a good friend.

    I’m curious about your response, though. A stay-at-home-dad in a position of church authority seems to run counter to the interpretation on the Proclamation you champion. If you’re willing to sustain the Brother Oliver of the hypothetical, then why all the hand-wringing?

  115. Sorry, everybody. I was wrong to say that the same things were being said again and again as there are different avenues that have not been explored and people do add additional insights.

    I just do not like it that this seems more like arguing than discussing. But hey, that is my problem and I do not have to read more of this thread if I do not want to.

  116. Chad,

    I trust that the SP and the Bishop are following the spirit. I feel that they probably had a long conversation about his family life took it to the Lord and got their answers Nothing more nothing less. The Lord will call whom he will call. SAHM is the ideal not the rule.

    Let me think on why the handwringing and get back to you. I think its my fear that the churchs standards are slipping in this regard as many members seem to be throwing out the advice on family structure. Also I am concerned about the falling church birthrate and I think the two are related.

  117. Bro. Adam,

    There is a difference between holding the view that one-income families are best (as long as the one income is earned by the father), which is a perfectly acceptable, mainstream view to hold in the church, and saying that such a view represents a gospel standard the deviation from which by two-income families amounts to (1) a failure to follow the prophet, (2) heterodoxy, (3) evidence that the two-income family values their children less than the SAHM family, (4) a choice that should be viewed by SAHM families as disappointing and bothersome, all of which have been suggested by Bro. Bell and seconded by you.

    I think it is axiomatic that the church upholds as ideal the traditional “Ozzie and Harriet” family model, where the husband works and mom stays home with the kids. The question is whether that is the ONLY acceptable model for faithful latter-day saints. I submit that, notwithstanding the ideal model, the church can and should accept in full fellowship two-income families, without being disappointed or bothered by them. I also think that if the church (and I am speaking of the members of the church individually and the cultural whole) were to do this, it would not be tantamount to a relaxation of standards nor would it be violative of core gospel principles. To the contrary, I think it would be a great step forward and in perfect harmony with the gospel as revealed in the scriptures.

    NB: No quotes around the word “standards.” Except that last one because I think the Chicago Manual of Style demands it (CMS 7.62, I believe).

  118. Brother Bell never suggested that every instance of two-income parents was as you suggested. You’re overreacting again.

  119. Adam,

    No, but Bro. Bell did say all of this:

    55:

    I have served in YM for many years and will continue to encourage my YM to gain a good education and make a good living so their wives can stay home and raise kids like the prophets teach. My wife will continue to teach the YW to get an education while they prepare to get married in the temple and to prepare to be SAHM like all of the YW leaders in our ward. In fact our ward is very selective on who gets called to YM and YW in this regard. Our example says it all. Hard to teach the YM or YW about the proclamation if you are not living it yourself to the best of your ability. They will see thru it.

    These quotes, coupled with his post on the other thread on the Proclamation, support my summary post #126 which, far from being an overreaction, is an accurate summary of what Bro. Bell has posted here.

    20:

    What is more important? Our kids or some career? We feel that we have chosen our kids over the things of the world. Not working part time, not attending school etc? What about the other SAMS in my ward? Almost all the moms in my ward are traditional SAHM’s and are proud of it!!!

    SAHD. Do not get me started.

    There is a song that my wife was playing on the piano last night. (see she got skills) Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way!

    37:

    So she and I frankly do not care if the current climate makes it difficult to have a career and be a mom at the same time because we are not trying to!!! And we think the prophets do not want her out pursuing a career when there are 4 little ones at home. If it leads to more people staying home and raising kids as we are taught to do at church than more power to the current situation in our Orthodox view. We see our kids as more important than any career.

    61:

    My wife is not balancing anything. She is focused on her kids. You cannot serve two masters effectively that is what she thinks.

  120. Hey, Adam – what do you think? I might have missed where you explained to us how you arrived at your interpretation of the Proclamation. Could you enlighten us? (or point me to your specific comment) Thanks.

  121. Brother Bell’s quotes are only controversial only if you think there’s no such thing as a bad reason to be a two-income family and if you think the one-income family isn’t the ideal. You reject the latter and hopefully the former. Which means you are overreacting.

  122. Elisabeth,

    Check the Proclamation thread. I don’t have a complete interpretation there though. I don’t have one anywhere. Until I can figure out a way to make sense of both the responsibilities language and the equal partners language, I don’t feel satisfied that I’ve got an answer.

  123. Adam–

    This may be too simplistic, but I think a possible understanding of the equal partners/responsibility language is thus: each spouse has a different sphere of responsibility. However, when and wherever they interact, they do it as equal partners. So, the mother is primarily (I agree that this word is ambiguous in this sentence) responsible for nurturing, but that doesn’t mean that she overrides her husband’s wishes on, say, a discipline issue just because nurturing is her responsiblity. Similarly, the husband’s sphere is earning filthy lucre*, but that doesn’t mean that he overrides his wife’s opinion in financial matters. This reading seems, to me at least, in harmony with what we usually hear from the Brethren about (1) how decisions should be made in a marriage and (2) the importance of mothers being at home.

    I’m open to other reconciliations of the equal partners/responsiblity language, but I haven’t encountered any yet. Most people seem intent on dismissing one or the other, or at least privileging one or the other.

    * just kidding. sort of.

  124. Ah. I oughta be reading my contracts casework…

    It is the knowledge that conversations like this are going on, somewhere, in somebody’s head at least, in the Church, that makes it so very hard for me to follow the path the Lord has put me (and my husband) on. The Lord’s made it absolutely clear that I must go to Law School, that I must do it right now, and I must rely on Him to help me both with my school work and with my mothering (I have four children – ages 17, 15, 11, and 7). The single hardest thing is *knowing* that people talk about whether my husband and I are “following the prophet”. What we want to do more than anything else is to do what is right.

    The Lord has opened so many doors for me – to be admitted to the premier school in our state, to get a top scholarship so we don’t have to go into debt, to provide a sudden and miraculous increase in my husband’s income while at the same time allowing him to work from home >75% of the time (so he can walk the youngest to school most days), and a class schedule that lets me get home before the kids (though I do have to forgo the tutoring sessions)… the Hand of the Lord is so very manifest each and every day. But I know that it bugs other people in the Church to see me doing this.

  125. Bob,

    So that you’ll feel comfortable responding I’ll tell you right off that I am married, have two children, and my wife is about to begin a part-time job as an MD. This might allow me to eventually cut down and work part time as well. Don’t tell my boss… Oh, as long as I am putting my “cards on the table”, my wife has degrees from some of the institutions in question here.

    From #61, I am wondering how many masters do you serve? How do you feel about them? How many would you like to serve?

    On the sustaining question, my bishop in college was a SAHD for four years just prior to being bishop and said from the pulpit that he was open to being a SAHD again.

  126. Akash,

    You’ve got me confused, or at least curious. You seem to say that women that have degrees from elite institutions and don’t go into the workforce are wasting their training. Perhaps I am misreading you, please let me know if that is the case. Assuming that I have’t misunderstood, do you feel that you have not made fully use of your own education given that you do not work outside the home?

  127. Liz O.:

    More power to you. Do what you know is right for your family and don’t worry about the judgmental attitudes of those who would say that you are not following the prophet. The prophets have said right there in the proclamation that individual circumstances may warrant adjustment to the traditional arrangement, and you and your family have the right to inspiration on these matters. If others are bothered by that, well, that’s their problem, IMO.

  128. Melissa,

    Sorry for the delayed response. I apologize for the imprecision in my quickly-written comment. I’ll try to be more clear. Your original question was, “Is it possible though that the prophets don’t encourage women to pursue professional ambitions with 4 ‘little ones at home’ because of the structure of our contemporary institutions?” This question asks if the following scenario occurred: 1. establishment of contemporary institutions, 2. God reacts to the nature of those institutions by instructing the prophets to instruct mothers to stay at home and fathers to go earn a living. I think this is possible (although perhaps unknowable?).

    My question to you is whether you consider the following scenario possible: God wants mothers in homes, and fathers outside working, period. This principle would hold in “post-industrial capitalistic economies” such as ours, as well as in other economic structures, i.e. a fisherman in Fiji or a subsistence farmer in Brazil.

  129. Doesn’t anyone care about the kind of damage that would be done to the church if the brethren were to broaden their exposition of the “ideal” in family life? My thinking is–If you feel justified in walking a path which is altered from the general ideal that the brethren have outlined, then do it with gusto! There’s no reason why one who honestly feels that they are doing right cannot uphold general counsel as given to the body of the church–even if what one is doing is not perfectly in keeping with that general counsel because of personal circumtances.

  130. I read the ensign article last night about the paragraph in the proclamation that is being discussed here and in the other thread. Depending on your inclinations you can read the article both ways. Either in favor of SAHM as a ironclad doctrine or as an ideal that cannot always be followed. (wiggle room) My feelings are that the body of the teachings in this regard in published form for the last 50 years favor SAHM model as an ideal. It seems that in the last 10 years or so the Bretheren have moved a little bit and acknowledged that many members have decided that the ideal does not work for them. I think that they are disappointed but have to face the realities of the modern economy hence the softening of the tone.

    President H was quoted that he hopes that those that are two incomes are doing it for the right reasons. Not for fancy cars, homes, and vacations but to provide the requirements of life: food shelter etc. I echo his comments/concerns

    I personally believe that children fare better when we follow the SAHM model. I have worked at length with YM for the past few years and I really think (note that this is an opinion based on perhaps 40-50 YM) in my exp that those in the SAHM model or a part time working mom (see my wiggle room comments above)fare better on average in regards to missions and temple marriages.

    That being said I am confident that by receiving personal revelation one can comfortably deviate from the ideal and have a succesful outcome with children. Its just harder in my opinion. Also deviation should come at a time when its ideal. IE when the kids are in school. But that moms should strive to be home during those after school hours.

  131. Elisabeth,

    I’m onboard with Julie in A.’s version in #132, so you can treat that as my interpretation for now.

  132. Bob,

    I agree with your statements in #139, although I would like to see empirical evidence for the missions and temple marriages observation. In my experience, whether a mother works outside the home is not determinative in these matters; what determines success rates on missions and temple marriages is having parents living and teaching the gospel in the home. SAHM families who are less active are going to be less likely to have children who grow up to go on missions and marry in the temple than two-income families who area active in the church, for example. I guess you are saying that all things being equal (i.e., equal levels of church activity/faithfulness), the SAHM families fare better than two-income families. Again, I am not so sure. I am not disputing the notion, just saying I am not certain.

  133. Brother Eric. Its just anecdotal evidence based on 40-50 YM and maybe 20 missionaries. I would love to see a real study but doubt that one could be ever really be done.

    Its just my observation with the YM. Throw out the inactives of course and look at the actives. The SAHM kids tend to fare better in my IMHO.

    Then again there are very few two career families in my area so that could really be skewing my perception. The housing prices are so cheap ($58 a sqft) that people move here just so they can be SAHM. This could be skewing my quorums in favor of SAHM and exp in favor of the self selecting SAHM in my area. In fact we moved here across the country so my wife could SAHM.

  134. In case anyone is interested, and I’m sure they’re not, my own interpretation of the passage in question is that the husband has ultimate responsibility for making sure that the family is provided for and the wife is responsible for making sure that the children are nutured. The simplest way to do this is for the husband to work and for the wife to raise children, however the couple could also decide to reverse this. In such a case the husband would still be ultimately resposible for making sure that the family has bread on the table, he just wouldn’t be the one providing it. Likewise the wife is responsible for making sure that the children are nutured even though it might be the husband that is actually doing most of the child-rearing. If the family falls short in either category the responsibility for that falls on the husband for providing and the wife for childrearing even if they are not the one that is providing the service. Does this make any sense to anyone but me?

  135. “It really does raise this question for all of us and for the country: when we work so hard to open academics and other opportunities for women, what kind of return do we expect to get for that?” said Marlyn McGrath Lewis, director of undergraduate admissions at Harvard, who served as dean for coeducation in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.”

    Ms. Lewis should NOT expect any “return” for opening opportunities for women. You make sure that women have the same opportunites as men because it’s right and fair, not because you expect them to pay you back. Educating people should not be viewed as an investment, where you expect a tangible return. You should do it because it will make them better people, whether they are better parents or better engineers or better poets. If you expect a “return” from sending someone to school, then loan them the tuition and charge them interest, and collect the principal and interest when they get a job. But to expect anyone to go on to a prominent career in any field as the “return” for their education means they went to school for you, not for themselves, and they are furthering your goals, not yours. Maybe Ms Lewis needs to stop living vicariously through all those college students.

    I know full well that I benefited from the efforts of others, probably like Ms Lewis, who opened opportunities for young women that didn’t exist in the 60s. I went to the Air Force Academy and remain on active duty today. The fact that your tax dollars paid for my education does mean you should expect some sort of return, which is why I owed the Air Force 5 years of service after graduation. But that commitment is applied equally to men and women graduating from any service academy. There are plenty of my male classmates who have since left the military and have civilian careers–they provided the expected “return” and moved on. I don’t owe anyone a greater “return” than that just because I was “given” an opportunity as a young woman to go to college.

    For the record, I work while my husband goes to school to earn a degree and his sons are finishing high school. When he is done with school, I expect to retire and let him work while I go to school. Had we met early enough to have children together, I would have left the military to stay at home and be with them myself, simply because there are plenty of men who can do my job, but no-one can raise my children as well as I can. The opportunities I was given would have made me a better mother, and THAT would be the “return” Ms Lewis should expect on my education.

  136. Davis Bell asked (OK, he asked Melissa, but I’ll answer anyway):

    “My question to you is whether you consider the following scenario possible: God wants mothers in homes, and fathers outside working, period. This principle would hold in “post-industrial capitalistic economies” such as ours, as well as in other economic structures, i.e. a fisherman in Fiji or a subsistence farmer in Brazil.”

    No. It makes nonsense of agrarian societies, where fathers work ‘at home.’ To me, the primary issue is not even wht the parents are doing, but what the children are doing and who is watching them as they do it.

  137. Julie in A: Even in an agrarian society men were outside the house (in some cases, many, many miles away) while women were “inside the home” i.e. with the children.

  138. Davis Bell–

    Technically you are correct. But not in any meaningful sense. A father may have been two mile away, but he would be likely to have a few sons with him all day long.

  139. True. But my main point still stands. In most agrarian societies, at least on “Little House on the Prairie,” women were primarily responsible for the care and feeding and children.

  140. Davis–

    Sure, but they were also actively ‘providing’ for their families, whether they were growing things or selling them. Many people feel that part of the angst felt by some SAHMs is that their role is now limited to non-producing consumer.

    Further, fathers would have taken a much more active role in being with older children.

    Back to the original point: I think the existence of agrarian families shows that the SAHM/working Dad isn’t an eternal principle but a current necessity.

  141. Davis,

    My question to you is whether you consider the following scenario possible: God wants mothers in homes, and fathers outside working, period.

    Julie’s already covered the basic gist of what I would say.

    My understanding of and experience with God is so different from what this question assumes that I find it difficult to even engage it. On the surface it almost sounds absurd to me. But, a measured answer, using your framework and language, would be that’s it’s possible, but highly improbable.

    M.

  142. I find it interesting that folks on both sides of the issue, but moreso on one than the other, spend alot of time justifying the decisions they have made for their life, but do so in “generic” ways so that it doesn’t seem like that is what they are doing.

    I think it was Nate that has suggested that we create theories and macro explanations/justifications, after the fact, for our own personal bias.

  143. Tolstoy said happy families are all alike….but somebody else said that UNhappy families are all alike, I can’t remember who. I think the second person was right.

    Because happy families find that happiness in a number of ways. It can be a stay at home dad or a totally Sister Monson like mom. There probably are common factors, but I think one of the reasons they are happy is they celebrate their uniqueness and are proud of themselves, in a good way, no matter what.

    Unhappy families are selfish and despairing and negative and depressed. Same story, different house. Nothing to do with what degree the mom has or who works.

  144. #135

    You’ve got me confused, or at least curious. You seem to say that women that have degrees from elite institutions and don’t go into the workforce are wasting their training. Perhaps I am misreading you, please let me know if that is the case. Assuming that I have’t misunderstood, do you feel that you have not made fully use of your own education given that you do not work outside the home?

    I have absolutely not made full use of my education, and I said somewhere back there (sorry, this discussion is so huge that it’s hard to find things now) that I really wish I had gone to cheaper and less prestigious schools. My initial goal centered around a very noble career in education, but over time I have contintually made stupid life choices based on family pressure (to be a “better breadwinner,” in fact) that pushed me into fields and institutions I simply did not want to be in. At best this resulted in poor performance, and at worst something akin to a nervous breakdown.

    So yes, after all this time and money spent, I really do regret the situation. Had I attended institutions where I received scholarships, we could have a house and a new car (and kids) now for all the money we could’ve saved. But as others have argued for the “educated SAHM”-model, should my wife’s career take an unanticipated turn, at least I’ll be (over-)qualified to help out financially.

    My current studies are geared towards creating for myself a job that will both utilize my expensive education and allow me to work from home. Probably a pipe dream, but worth a shot at least.

  145. First and foremost, I want to state that I don’t have a fixed opinion on the matter at hand. However, if someone put a gun to my head and made me decide, I’d probably side with Julie and Melissa. Nonetheless, I think it’s an interesting discussion, and one worth having.

    Julie in A. says, “I think the existence of agrarian families shows that the SAHM/Dad-at-work isn’t an eternal principle but a current necessity.” First, I never addressed the issue of whether this is an “eternal principle,” although it’s certainly an interesting question. Melissa, not I, posited “eternal principle” as the “opposite” of the possibility of the current SAHM/DAW recommendation springing from “the structure of our contemporary institutions.” What I meant to imply with my imprecise use of the word “opposite” was, rather than the current SAHM/DAW recommendation springing from our post-industrial capitalist institutions, perhaps the basic SAHM/DAW model is a divinely-mandated norm for our earthly probation.

    That’s where the debate on agrarian societies comes in. I must plead general ignorance as to the structure of the family in agrarian society. I have some basic assumptions, but they’re probably mostly made up. If someone has some good, hard facts, feel free to chime in. Anyway, assuming the statements Julie and I have made about agrarian societies are true (and even though we refer to them as though they are monolithic, I’m sure there are many different types), I still don’t really think they disprove the idea that the basic SAHM/DAW model is a divinely-mandated norm for our earthly probation. Granted, the structure of their SAHM/DAW model was different than ours, but I think the two have much more in common than not.

    Finally, it must be pointed out that if we’re talking about divinely-mandated norms for earthly probation, we have to deal with periods where prophets were on the earth, and the statements made by those prophets on the matter. I suspect we have precious few of these.

    As for an eternal principle regarding the structure of the family, I have no idea.

  146. Re 156: So because the man in the article doesn’t “enjoy” raising his baby, and because his wife can breast-feed, that supports the counsel of the prophets? I know we’ve agreed to disagree on our interpretations of the ProcOnTheFamily, but surely you can come up with better support for your claims than first-hand examples that some men are merely obnoxious.

    As I’ve said before: if biology suits women for domesticity, why in the world can’t my wife cook, clean, or otherwise organize a household? Would that it were so, but it ain’t. She *can* presumably lactate and give birth, but unfortunately the other tasks don’t seem hard-wired into her set of X-chromosomes. :)

  147. Bob,

    I’m going to ask again in the hope that you’ll respond this time.

    How many masters do you serve? What do you think of them? Is it serving two masters for a woman to work but not for a man?

  148. A random John.

    Its my wife that says she cannot serve two masters not me. I am forced to serve two masters. My work and my family. I see one master (my work) to be a requirement that allows me to serve the other master (my family). She feels that she will be spread to thin if she worked and had 4 kids 5 and under. She and I have chosen that she will serve one master the rugrats. The answer to your final question is probably yes if there are lots of young kids in the household and you follow my traditional understanding of the proclamation’s firm explanation of gender roles. Based on my understanding of LDS doctrine the bretheren prefer the SAHM route from McKay to GBH. Read Gary Shapiro’s post with his link if you want the doctrine from the horses mouth. http://www.aros.net/~srg17/blog/gender%20roles.htm

    and this….

    “Recently I reviewed the history of many missionaries and found a powerful correlation between exceptional missionaries and mothers who chose to remain home, often at great financial and personal sacrifice. With the names changed, I share excerpts of bishops’ and stake presidents’ comments about real missionaries. It is but a fraction of the many thousands of examples available. They reflect honor to mothers who sacrificed to remain home for their children’s benefit. (Ensign, May 1993, 33; emphasis added.)” Elder Scott

    After reading 15 such examples, he continued,

    There are many thousands of youth like those I have just described, and more just keep coming.

    How grateful you mothers of youth like these must feel as you see some of the fruits of your sacrifice. You have a vision of the power of obediently, patiently teaching truth, because you look beyond the peanut butter sandwiches, soiled clothing, tedious hours of routine, struggles with homework, and long hours by a sickbed.

    President Benson has taught that a mother with children should be in the home. He also said, “We realize … that some of our choice sisters are widowed and divorced and that others find themselves in unusual circumstances where, out of necessity, they are required to work for a period of time. But these instances are the exception, not the rule.” (Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion, pamphlet, 1987, pp. 5–6.) You in these unusual circumstances qualify for additional inspiration and strength from the Lord. Those who leave the home for lesser reasons will not. (Ibid.; emphasis added.)

    So what do you think a random John? Is my position a crazy reactionary one?

  149. Bob,

    I applaud how you and your family live your lives. I am not saying that your lifestyle is crazy or reactionary. I was reacting to the “two masters” quote. There are two ways that this could be taken. One is that your wife is saying that given your current schedule, working and raising 4 small children would spread her too thin. If that is the position being taken then I agree with it. We have two under two and it is a lot of work for both of us.

    There was another way in which the “two masters” comment could be interpreted though, which would be a more direct reference to scripture, and would imply that anyone (male or female) that works outside of the home is serving mammon. This seems harsh and judgemental to me. It seems though that this isn’t what was being said. Please correct me if I am wrong.

  150. Oh you know….

    Most people are not serving mammon by working. If that was my contention then I am for sure serving mammon. Cause here I am blogging while talking to customers on the phone!!!! Thank goodness for headsets…..

    You can be serving mammon though as we both know if you are male or female. A man can serve mammon by working more hours than needed and ignoring his families needs to go to aruba twice a year or to own a 75K luxury car. A woman can do the same. GBH said as much about the reasons for women with children to work outside the home in the latest issue of the ensign.

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