Housewife and Homemaker – the unacceptable career choice

My previous 2 posts where a buildup to this one.  For those who haven’t read them, I am working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.  The first few chapters lead me to think about Character Traits and My Purpose in Life.

My purpose in life, as I discovered, is to be a Housewife and Homemaker.  The strange part is this is something I have always known, but I didn’t want to acknowledge.  Housewife and Homemaker isn’t exactly the career your guidance counselor wants you to strive towards in High School.

Arguments against being a HOUSEWIFE

The arguments against it bombard a young mind from all angles.  Some of the ones I have heard are:

  • What if you never get married?  You can’t rely on your parents forever.
  • What if you get divorced, or your husband dies or becomes disabled?  You need a career that you can fall back on if you are forced to become the breadwinner.
  • In today’s economy, it is impossible to live off a single salary.  Being a housewife is unrealistic in the modern world.
  • What about the fight for equality between the sexes?  How can you give up what so many women have fought so long and hard for?
  • It is a waste of your God-given talents and skills!  You should be looking at ways to use them to support your family and further the kingdom of God.

Points 1 and 2 – What if…

The first two I will acknowledge are valid points.  It is a wise decision for a woman to find something that she is good at and enjoys doing in addition to being a housewife/homemaker.  That way she has a backup plan in case she stays single or is forced into being the breadwinner.

Somebody I know mentioned that she feels that the ideal backup career for a woman is an K-12 school teacher (pick the age group you love the most).  She explained how Schools normally don’t hold it against you if you have left the workforce to raise children, unlike other career options.  She also mentioned how if you are trained with the younger children, you can start a daycare from the comfort of your own home if your children are still young.

Point 3 – Economy

When it comes to the third point, about the economy, I see that this one is only valid if your spouse is on minimum wage (or close to minimum wage).  But living off a single, average income, is doable.  It just means that you can’t be materialistic.  Accept that you will be living with less, your children won’t be going to private schools (you may decide to homeschool them if the public schools in your area are a problem), and that you will have to make do with second-hand whenever possible.

I did the maths regarding this when Mark and I were looking at me leaving my job and working with him in his business.  Due to the savings on fuel and food/snacks for lunch, and add into that how I am home to better plan our meals, and do our budgeting/bookkeeping properly each month, we have successfully moved from a double income to a single income and are currently still making a “profit” each month.  I should also mention that the salary we gave up was the greater of the two salaries.

Point 4 – Equality

To me, this is scratching the bottom of the barrel.  It is only a problem if you are trying to force other women to make the same choice that you made.  In my mind, I feel that women should have a choice either way.  It should be equally acceptable for a woman to have a career outside their home, or a career inside their home.  I know women who would go absolutely crazy if they had to stay at home all day, I also know women who are on the edge of going crazy because they have to leave their homes each day to go to work.  It goes both ways, therefore both options should be acceptable.

Point 5 – God

This is just plain nonsense.  Who are you to judge what God has lead the woman to do with the skills he has given her?  The skills you see each day might only be the ones that are relevant to her career, or what she studied.  How would you know if she was a superb mother, a frugal homemaker or a wonderful hostess and cook if you only see her in her job as a secretary or scientist?  For all we know, God might have put it on this intelligent woman’s heart to be a housewife/homemaker/stay-at-home-mother, because only a woman of her intelligence would be able to teach the child he had planned for her and raise him/her to be the person who will change the world in some way or another.

Ultimately, I am saying that a woman can use her talents by supporting her family emotionally and furthering the kingdom of God by starting in her own home.

Extract from my diary

This is an extract from my diary.  I wrote it without the intention of ever publishing it, but I feel that it is necessary to give my reader a full view of what was going through my mind and heart while struggling with the work part of the funeral visualization from my previous blog post.

I got stuck with the funeral visualization yesterday and haven’t completed it yet.  The next one I was meant to visualize was Work.  I am struggling with that one.  I have never been able to visualize myself in a career.  Each one that I think of I get the feeling of “that would be nice, but there is no excitement there.”

The only place that I really love being is at home.  Internally I am struggling between wanting to say “My home and family are my work” and something else that says “That isn’t a real career.”

After this I spent some time looking up blogs and opinion articles online.  I had heard of Titus 2:3-5 before, but I really did an in depth study of it this time.  More of this in next week’s post.  The end result was that I realized that God was leading me down this path.

Another extract from my diary (after all my research):

My heart is struggling.  Something in me wants to say that women were designed to be homemakers and this is God’s plan for me.  Something else is saying that it isn’t applicable to the modern culture, that I am looking for something to justify wanting to stay at home and be a housewife.

I spent more time thinking about this, and the conflicting emotions.  My main thought is “Why has it become so unacceptable to be a wife, mother and homemaker when just 60-70 years before it was perfectly acceptable?”

I haven’t found the conclusion to this question yet, and I think that this will involve a lot more research in the coming months.  It has definitely become a topic of interest to me.

If you have any thoughts, books, articles or blogs I can read on this topic , I would greatly appreciate a comment with the details.

Visualization Exercise to find your purpose in life

About the exercise

I am still working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. The next part of the book that stood out for me was the part where he asks the reader to visualize going to a funeral of a loved one 3 years from now. He guides you through visualizing it in detail, and eventually you discover that it is your furneral that you are visualizing.

Stephen asks you to imagine that 4 people are going to speak at the funeral. The first is a family member, who is going to speak about your family life. The second is a friend who is going to speak about how they saw you as a friend. The third is somebody that will speak about your work ethic, and the fourth is somebody who will speak about your community or church involvement.

At this time he asks you to think about what you would want each person to say about your character, contributions and achievements. Remember, this isn’t for you to think about what they WILL say about you as you are now (although that is also an important exercise that will help you figure out how what you are now is different to how you want to be). This is to dream about the way you want to be remembered, and in so doing, figure out what you value most in life and what your goals in life are.

What I discovered while doing the EXERCISE

This was a very important exercise for me, and it was the main topic of my thoughts for almost a week. Knowing what I wanted to be said about me with regards to family, friends and community was easy, and it only took me an hour or so to really flesh out the details.

When it came to what I want people to say about me regarding work, it was difficult. I knew that there were two characteristics that I wanted people to say. I wanted to be known as honest and trustworthy. The contributions and achievements I had an issue with.

As you can no doubt see from my previous blog posts where I worked through the “48 Days to the Work you love” book. I have been bothered by what work to do for some time. The truth is, that my heart has always known what it wanted to do, but what I wanted to do is no longer socially acceptable. Or at least it feels as though it is no longer socially acceptable.  The option on my heart, definitely wasn’t an option in the “48 Days to the Work you love” book, as in that book the author looks for ways to make money out of the skills you have, whereas the work that is on my heart doesn’t have a monetary reward.

For the first time in my life I had to be honest with myself. I thought “Do I want to be remembered for making that awesome computer game?” The answer was no. “Do I want to be remembered for writing that best selling novel?” Again no. “Do I want to be remembered for influencing the lives of hundreds of children through teaching?” This one was closer, but once again I wasn’t passionate about it.

So the question that came to my mind is what do I really want to be remembered for? What am I passionate about? Where am I when I am the happiest? The strange answer, and this I have known for a long time, is that I am happiest when I am at home and when I am talking to women who are also happiest in their homes.  I am happiest when I am encouraging other homemakers, sharing ideas with them and when I am working in my own home.

Could it be that I was made to be a housewife? This was a startling realization for me, but the moment I admitted it to myself, it made complete sense.

I researched quotes about homemaking, I read other people’s opinion blogs on the topic. I even looked up Bible verses about womanhood.

All my findings will be best left as a blog post for next week. For now I am going to stick to the funeral visualization and my answers. Please remember this isn’t how I am right now, but rather what I am wanting to aspire to be.

My Answers to the Funeral Visualization Exercise

Family

Character
Ashleigh was a loving wife and mother who valued her family’s well-being and happiness second only to her faith and relationship with God. She strived to model the character traits she valued most, and encouraged her children to develop them, following her example.

Contributions
Her home was always open and welcoming to family, friends and strangers. A person couldn’t visit without feeling as though they had found a second home in her house. She was the glue that held the family and friends together, making them feel as though they were one.

Achievements
She was a talented cook, and a perfect homemaker. She was filled with wisdom and managed her home finances devotedly. Her family never lacked any need.

Friends

Character
Ashleigh was an honest and trustworthy friend. She was always there to help and support those who needed her to. She was filled with knowledge & wisdom, and she was always reading to expand her knowledge.

Contributions
She was reliable and would always come through for others. Whether it was icing cupcakes or babysitting her friends children so they could have a quiet evening at home. She was always there for her friends.

Achievements
Her home may not have been the picture of beauty shown in magazines, but it was humbly welcoming and an easy-going household.

Church/Community

Character
Ashleigh had outstanding wisom and her faith in God and his provision was unequalled. She put God first in her life and went to Him & His word for guidance first.

Contributions
She was always present at any occassion in her church community and never failed to help where she could.

Achievements
Even though Ashleigh never organized any functions herself, she supported other people’s endeavours whole-heartidly.

Work

This was the difficult one that I wrote a few days later. I had spent a long time thinking about this one and working through a few things, which will be described in detail during my next blog post.

Character
Ashleigh was a diligent worker. She was always willing to serve others. She was trustworthy and honest.

Contributions
As her husbands helpmeet in his work, no-one could have been better. When she wasn’t helping Mark, she was working in her home, raising and teaching her children with special care.

Achievements
Her home was always clean and well organized. She was proactive and never failed to put first things first. She did any task set before her efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion

This is all I have for this week. I strongly encourage you to try this exercise, especially if you have that empty hole inside of you that you just can’t seem to find something to fill it with.

That was my problem, I had Jesus in my life, but I still felt like I was constantly searching for meaning. I’ve noticed that the hole inside happens whenever you have an unfulfilled purpose, that you are not acknowledging to yourself or openly.  I’m not sure if the meaning has finally been found, but that hole inside is definitely smaller.

Also remember, that your visualization can have results that are greatly different to mine.  Everybody has been created unique.  This is about YOU, not impressing others.  I constantly had to fight the thought of what is the right answer, the socially acceptable answer, and remind myself that the right answer for society is not necessarily the right answer for me.  Always ask yourself, “Is this what I want? Or is this what I feel is the right thing to want?”

Previous posts building up to this one

Developing Character Traits To Succeed in Life

Developing Character Traits to Succeed in Life

The Seven Habits of highly effective people

It started while I was reading the book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I am not finished with the book yet, as I am only on the 3rd Habit.

In this book Stephen Covey pointed out that he had made a remarkable discovery while doing research on “self-help” books of the past 200 years.  Around the year 1950, there became a distinct change in the way the books were written.

Prior to 1950, the self-help books detailed that the way to success was to build your character traits and to encourage your children to build their character traits.  After 1960, the self-help books did a turn and started encouraging people to build their Personality traits.

The difference between character and personality

Dictionary.com defines Character as “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” And it defines Personality as “the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others.”

So we could say that Character is the way the person is, and personality is the way the person appears to be.

Examples of Character Traits

A few examples of Character Traits include:

  • Integrity – The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.*
  • Humility – the quality of having a modest view of ones importance.*
  • Fidelity – faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by loyalty & support.*
  • Temperance – abstinence from alcoholic drink.*
  • Courage – the ability to do something that frightens one
  • Justice – just behaviour or treatment of others.*
  • Industry – being able and willing to work hard, effectively and efficiently.*
  • Simplicity – the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design.*
  • Modesty – the quality or state of being unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities.*
  • The Golden Rule – One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. (Wikipedia.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Examples of Personality Traits

Here are a few examples of Personality Traits that are encouraged during Personality Development:

  • Personality – the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others (Dictionary.com)
  • Public Image – the ideas and opinions that the public has about a person or an organization that may not be what they are really like (macmillandictionary.com)
  • Attitudes – a settled way of thinking or feeling about something
  • Behaviours – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.*
  • Skills – the ability to do something well; expertise.*
  • Techniques – a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.*
  • Influence – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.*
  • Communication Skills – The ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently.  (businessdictionary.com)
  • Positive attitudes – A positive attitude is a philosophy of approaching life with optimism and confidence. (eHow.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Why should we build character and not personality?

Many people will argue that in this “modern” world we need our Personalities to succeed in life, that it isn’t our inward person that makes us move ahead, but rather our outward personality.

I argue that personality is only a short-term solution.  Once people get to know you, really get to know you, it is your character that keeps you ahead.

How many times have two people got married or started living together and after a year or two they get divorced or break up?  The excuse is usually “Person X wasn’t the person I thought he/she was.” Or “Living together in the same house made us realize how different we really are.”  I will make the bold statement that these people fell in love with each others personalities, not with each other’s characters.

We could take it to business level too.  You may employ somebody, or join a business that you were attracted to during the interview process.  A few months later (sometimes even a few years later), they don’t seem to be the person you hired (or the business isn’t living up to their promises).  Then there is that horrible “break-up”.  Like in a marriage, you were attracted to the personality, not the character.

Character takes time to develop, and time to reveal itself, especially in a world that focuses so much on the personality.   Developing YOUR character is beneficial though, because it is the backbone of personality.

If you develop the character trait of integrity, then your personality will always be a reflection of your true character.  What people see in you is not the public image you have created, but a reflection of yourself.  If you develop all the character traits mentioned in the example above, how can the person not like what they see (the personality)?

We all know that having people who like you for who you really are, is a huge boost to your own self-esteem.  Having a high Self-Esteem in turn will encourage you to keep building the character traits, which in turn will reflect in your personality, thereby increasing your self-esteem even more.

people don’t like me even with these character traits

Yes, this can be a problem.  Most of the time the people who don’t like you are the ones who lack these character traits themselves.  You may notice that the person who doesn’t like you manipulates other people and tells lies in order to get ahead in life.  They are building personality traits instead of working on their Character traits.

As I mentioned before, personality development is a short term solution.  We all remember that one girl from High School that would suck up to the teachers, tease the boys and spread nasty rumors.  While she appears sweet and innocent to many of the people who first meet her, at the end of High School most people realize what her true character is like.  Unless she changes during college or her adult life and starts developing her character, you will always find that she cannot stay long in any job or place without eventually showing her true self.  You may find that she keeps people at a distance, never getting too close to anybody.

Developing your character traits, is a process of building a reputation that extends over your whole life.  It may not be cool or popular in High School, and sometimes not even in college, but when you get to the age where you are looking for a job, getting married and having children, something switches in your brain and you realize that the Character Traits were the most important after all.