UFI

You’re a Stay-at-Home Mom? Why?

In Child Development, Feminism, motherhood, working mothers on December 22, 2014 at 10:10 am

working mothersIn today’s world it appears that caring for and teaching children is considered to be a profession – as long as they’re not your own.

By Jessika Allsop with contributions from Mary Johnatakis

When I first found out I was pregnant, the most common question I was asked was not how far along are you or what are you having, the question was, “Are you going to keep working?” I always responded the same way, “I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom so that is my plan.” I would love to tell you that everyone I told supported me 100 percent, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Some people would ask if I could afford to stay home, or what I would do with myself all day. Others would roll their eyes, and make comments like “how fun, you can finally watch Dr. Phil and take naps.” Even members of my own family questioned why I would want to be a stay-at-home mom, with my education, professional skills, experience, etc. These questions and comments surprised and hurt me. They opened my eyes to the stigma of being a stay-at-home mom in today’s society; a stigma, surprisingly, created by women. And unfortunately now when I am asked what my career is, I hesitate to answer that I am a stay-at-home mom, worried about the judgments that will surely follow.

Feminist Influence

We are surrounded by women in our lives who believe that to be considered a successful woman in today’s society, we must be professionally successful. I once thought myself to be a feminist, fighting for the equality of women in society and the ability to choose what we want to do and who we want to be. But there are factions of feminists out there who don’t want a choice for women, they just want women to take on all the same roles traditionally assigned to men and shed all the traditional roles of women. If this is the new definition and goal for feminism, then I can no longer claim to be one.

In a recent article, one particular radical feminist even took it so far as to say:

“Let’s please be serious grown-ups: real feminists don’t depend on men. Real feminists earn a living, have money and means of their own…I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.”

This particular feminist, though her article was focused on wealthy mothers, concluded her article arguing that motherhood isn’t a real job.  This is insulting to every mother I know, wealthy or not:

 “Yes, of course, it’s something — actually, it’s something almost every woman at some time does, some brilliantly and some brutishly and most in the boring middle of making okay meals and decent kid conversation. But let’s face it: It is not a selective position. A job that anyone can have is not a job; it’s a part of life, no matter how important people insist it is (all the insisting is itself overcompensation).”

It’s important to note that this particular feminist is not a mother.

Benefits of Stay-at-Home Moms

 In analyzing today’s society you will find that an increasing number of women are leaving the home to work in the professional world. While there are some cases of this being done out of necessity and personal fulfillment, it is common sense to assume that part of the result could be the stigma associated with being a stay-at-home mom. One study reported that 71 percent of American mothers who had children under the age of 18 are in the labor force. With the increasing number of mothers working outside the home it is only natural that research has been done to uncover the effects this has on their families.

There has been quite a bit of research done in particular, concerning children who have working mothers, and there are definite negative patterns that have been identified. In the same study referenced above the research found that none of the stay-at-home moms that were interviewed reported behavior problems in their children. However, 42 percent of the working mothers did report problems. The author of the study explained that this “finding could be related to children being cared for by several people (both out-of-home care providers and parents.)” This inconsistency in parenting and discipline techniques could contribute to behavior problems.

Another study referenced recently in a parenting article found that “children of mothers who worked full-time in the first year of that child’s life received modestly lower child cognitive scores relative to children of mothers who do not work on all eight cognitive outcomes examined.”

It is safe to assume that while this appears to be immediately affecting our children negatively, it will eventually negatively affect our society as a whole. These are the children who will soon make up the adult population of our society.  So there are some arguments to be made for the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom both for our children and our society

Combating the Stigma

So now the question is how do we make a change? How do we combat the stigma of the stay-at-home mom?

The answer lies in changing the feminist platform back to what the platform was built for in the first place. Feminists once fought for the opportunity to make a choice, they fought for the opportunities of women to do what they want to do and be who they want to be without suffering discrimination. This is the argument that we must return to. We must teach women to once again respect women, to support each other no matter their choice and encourage everyone else in our society to do the same. We should open our mouths and speak up in support of the stay-at-home moms in our lives, and for ourselves, and our right to choose.

I personally will overcome my own hesitation when asked, “What do you do for a living?” I will quickly respond, “I choose to be a stay-at-home mom.” If I am criticized for this I will stand up and say, “I believe it to be the most important job I will ever have, and I know I am the best fit for aking on the responsibility of nurturing and teaching my children. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

 For more studies and research on the impact of women working outside the home, go here.

Jessika AllsopJessika Allsop is a stay at home mom finishing up a bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family studies at Brigham Young University Idaho.   She is the wife of a wonderful man, and the mother to a beautiful two year old boy, and will be adding another little boy to her family in January of 2015. Jessika has been a passionate advocate for families since she was a teen and has become even more dedicated since starting her own family.

Parenting: Disciplinarian or Loving Listener?

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, Schools, stay-at-home mom, The Family, Values on December 19, 2014 at 9:53 am

family work in gardenRachel Allison

My husband and I have totally different parenting styles. I have often wondered how I ended up being the strict disciplinarian.  He on the other hand had an open-door policy with our children.  Any time a discussion or heart to heart conversation was needed he was available. Uhhh…I think somehow we got our roles reversed.  And sometimes I was a bit frustrated by it.

My role as the strict disciplinarian:

  • Chores and household duties were expected.  We worked together, and all had responsibilities that helped the home and family run well.
  • No television during the school week.
  • Homework was finished before extracurricular activities and friends.
  • Curfews were in place during their teenage years.
  • We went to church together as a family. If my teenage children were tempted to sleep during church I would remind them that their curfew the following Saturday night would be 30 minutes earlier so they could get their needed sleep.  They stayed awake because they knew I would not forget to carry out the promise.
  • If there was fighting between siblings, they knew that extra chores would be given. My policy was,  “If you have the energy to fight you have the energy to work.”  The result?  Arguments were settled quickly, and Mom rarely had to get involved.
  • My children knew the importance of being loyal to their siblings.  We discussed it, and they knew the consequences if they were not.
  • We had LOTS of family discussion. We discussed the rules of our family.  They didn’t always like them, but they understood why they were in place.

My husband’s role as the kind and loving mediator: ( grrrrrr… :) )

  • He drove them to school everyday and they laughed and talked freely.
  • He interviewed them monthly or more if needed.  The conversations were never hurried.  The children looked forward to those interviews and discussions.
  • When I was too strict, the children would go to their father.  He and I would privately discuss their issues, and sometimes, I admit, the rules needed to be changed.
  • My husband was a listener.
  • My husband did not judge our children.  They knew his love was unconditional.
  • Etc. Etc.

Do you see why there were times I wanted HIS role…and I wanted him to have MINE.  But, I was the one who was with our children in the home.  I saw what needed to be done on a daily basis to keep the home and family running smoothly and progressing. It worked for our family.

My husband and I are the first to admit that if we had both been like me, our children would have been messed up. And if we had both been like him, they would have been messed up.  Those seem like strong statements, but we feel that our combination was a good balance to teach our children responsibility, loyalty, compassion and love.

I am happy to say that since our children are now adults I share my husband’s role…and I love it!

My Dicken’s Christmases

In Child Development, Families, father, Marriage, motherhood, Parenting, Religion, The Family, Values on December 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

Christmas Tree 2Written by Beth Whitaker as told to Rebecca Mallory

Last weekend my family held the big annual family Christmas party in Utah. I unfortunately came down with a cold and couldn’t go. I was feeling very sorry for myself until my darling sister sent me what she wrote as her part of “A Dickens Family Christmas.” It brought back such blessed memories of my childhood. With her permission, I share this visit from the ghost of my “Christmas past” and wish a warm and happy Christmas season for you and your families.

I am the ghost of Christmas past!  Our parents created a loving home and welcomed eight daughters and one son . Mother and Dad loved each other very deeply and all of us children knew that. Every night when dad came home from work, he would sneak up behind her as she was cooking dinner. (She actually always knew he was there) He would come up behind her, put his arms around her and give her a kiss on her neck and teasingly ask, “Are you trying to starve me to death?” Mother would say, “Just a few more minutes, just a few more minutes…. When I was a child, that small gesture seemed unnecessary, even gross! But the older I got, the more secure it made me feel and the more I cherished that sweet memory.

Mother always cooked the best Christmas dinners.  She made delicious slush with pineapple and bananas from a recipe given to her by our Aunt Minnie, which was served in the most elegant little glasses. We had turkey with the best stuffing ever, the recipe being one that had been handed down from her great grandmother.  Mounds of mashed potatoes with butter right in the center, delicious rolls and banana cream, pumpkin, pecan and apple pies!  Her table was set just so with a beautiful cream-colored table cloth, her lovely china, silverware and green glasses.   Mother made everyone so welcome and always made sure there was plenty to eat!  There were always plenty of people, plenty of food and plenty of dishes afterward! We had no dishwasher, but we made it fun with many hands pitching in. We enjoyed great conversations while cleaning up and working together.

Mother was raised in a home where the needle arts were taught.  Her oldest sister, Pearl, could study a beautiful dress in a shop window or catalog and then could recreate it to the finest detail…without a pattern.  One Christmas mother decided to make dresses for each of us.  I remember that one by one we took turns going into her sewing room and were told to keep our eyes tightly closed and not to peek while she slipped the dress over our heads to make sure it fit just right.  I’m sure she worked late into the night because the next morning there, hanging on a rack by the Christmas tree, were our beautiful dresses each with a name tag on the shoulder. They were magical.

Delta, Utah was a very small town and there was a Christmas Eve tradition where Santa’s helper would ride through the neighborhoods on the fire engine stopping  just as the sun went down at each home so the children could sit on his knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas!  He never knocked or rang the doorbell, but he would simply barge through the door with a  big bag on his back and shout, “HOHOHO!  Merry Christmas!”  I remember our 3 year old sister as Santa came through the door. She screamed in horror and burst into tears wanting nothing to do with him….until she watched her sisters sit on his knee and receive a little brown bag of candy, peanuts and an orange!  She eventually took her turn and no doubt got just what she asked for the next morning.

One Christmas mother was out of town and we decided to surprise her by decorating the tree. We listened happily to Andy Williams, Perry Como and Bing Crosby as we carefully unwrapped the ornaments. But first…We wanted a flocked tree so we got out the Kirby vacuum and fixed it so it would blow out the air, attached the bag of white flock and then decided it might be a good idea if we held sheets around the tree!  Since we were doing it in the LIVING ROOM! Oh my goodness!  What a big mess!  The flock shot out all over everywhere and we were horrified!  We quickly took the tree outside and began scooping up the fine white powder that had covered the entire front room!  I don’t remember mother being overly upset about that so I guess we did a pretty good job cleaning up.

On Christmas morning before any gifts were opened, we would kneel down and have family prayer.  Daddy would thank Heavenly Father for our warm home, our family, our many blessings and for the birth of His Son Jesus Christ.  Then he would sit next to the tree and one by one hand out the gifts.  We each took our turn opening our presents before the next one was handed out.  One year there were several boxes of similar size and we knew we were all in for a treat!  And sure enough each of us received a brand new shiny pair of ICE SKATES!  We were so excited!  That afternoon we bundled up in our warmest coats, hats, scarves and gloves, piled into the green Pontiac station wagon and drove out to the reservoir west of town.  We put on our ice skates and slipping and sliding, falling and laughing we had the best time trying out our wonderful gifts. I remember Daddy taking my hand and one of the others, and we headed out across that murky, grayish green frozen water.  It seemed like the farther we got from shore, the more the creaks and groans and popping got louder and louder until I was sure the ice would crack open and we would be drown in the icy cold water!  I looked up at Daddy and asked if we were going to be alright.  He squeezed my hand tightly and said, “We will be just fine.  Don’t you worry about anything, we’ll be just fine.” And we were!  I knew my Dad would never do anything to harm me and I trusted him completely.  Our Dad was our greatest hero.

The most wonderful part of Christmas was our special Family Home Evening on Christmas Eve.  We would have a program and then sing fun Christmas carols like Frosty the Snowman, Here Comes Suzie Snowflake, Deck the Halls accompanied by our second oldest sister, Susan, and then we would sing the sacred hymns, The First NOEL, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem, Hark the Herald Angels and Silent Night.  Then Daddy would reach for the big brown family Bible and read from Luke 2 about the birth of the Savior: “And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed….”

Then Susan would start playing the introduction to our favorite Christmas song of all….Dad would stand by the piano as he sang in his most beautiful Tenor voice, “Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior’s birth”……..

Those memories of Christmases past remind us that our parents loved each of us and taught us the sacred importance of family and loving relationships. I am grateful for precious memories of Christmas’s past and hope that I am creating some of those memories for my children and grandchildren.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

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