The pressure began in the 1970s with a reaction to Betty Friedan’s 1963 book, The Feminine Mystique. Friedan asserted that society had conditioned housewives against recognizing their boredom and “quiet desperation.” Women, she said, should want more.
All too quickly, succeeding generations of women came to frown upon the idea that stay-at-home moms could possibly be fulfilled. No, society now said, women need outside careers — in addition to being wives and mothers — if we want to have satisfying lives. Stay-at-home moms deserve pity. Or scorn.
As the daughter of a single mom, I certainly understand that some women have to work outside the home. Others may believe that, in order to maintain their standard of living, they can’t afford to stay home (an attitude that should demand serious questioning). If a husband wants his wife to contribute to the household income, that wife may need to submit to his wishes by getting a job. As Christians, we should remain sensitive to our sisters who honestly believe they have no choice but to work. I don’t want shame those who believe they must stay in the workforce.
My point today is that stay-at-home moms feel shamed by a culture that Betty Friedan has shaped. For all the talk feminism makes about women having choices, the choice to stay at home with one’s children typically draws sideways glances at best and outright condemnation from most people.
This attitude of disdain ironically oppresses women by demeaning their choice to follow the pattern of Titus 2:3-5.
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (ESV)
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, let this older woman encourage you to resist the temptation to think your roles as wives and mothers can’t fully satisfy you. The culture apples tremendous pressure on you to think you’ve settled for less than you deserve, but God’s Word encourages us to think differently than the world (Romans 12:1-2).
Society may devalue women who stay at home to nurture their children, but God esteems such women highly. Stay-at-home mothers have more time and opportunity to invest in teaching their children to live godly lives. They have better opportunity to model to their daughters how to be a godly wife and to their sons what to look for in a wife. Even more importantly, they can spend time teaching their children to read and study Scripture.
Don’t underestimate the power of your influence as a mom. When the Lord makes it possible for you to be home with your children, embrace that privilege as a precious gift from Him. Trust that He smiles on your ministry to those little ones, even on the hard days.
The world will never applaud stay moms. But why would you want the world’s applause when you can have God’s favor?