Madwoman Out of the Attic

a feminist trudging forward in a patriarchal world

Thursday, December 22, 2005

respecting parenting alternatives

Over at FMH, there's a thread about judging others' personal decisions. Of course the example of moms choosing to work came up as a prime example of a choice families make that are often condemned or judged by fellow ward members. As I was thinking about this phenomenon, I couldn't help but wish that there was more respect for diverse parenting practices. In my opinion, there are numerous ways to raise a great, healthy family which do indeed follow the principle of leaders' advice, but perhaps not the prescription.

Many male leaders have told women to not work outside the home. That is their prescription for a healthy family. But what is principle behind this? They want children to have a stable environment with a loving adult around. If I work but my husband has a job where he can work from home and nurture our children, isn’t that following the principle of the authorities’ counsel? If my in-laws live in my home and love to nurture and care for my kids while I work, aren’t the kids receiving the love and stability that is the principle behind the directive?

I think decisions about who will be the main caregiver should be based on aptitude and interest, rather than sex. If a man loves kids and wants to stay home, and the woman loves working, why wouldn’t that be a perfectly wonderful way to raise a family? If parents have the opportunity to co-parent while they both have part time jobs, why isn’t that acceptable? (By the way, that’s what my intentions are when my baby is born in eight months.)

It just seems to me like Church members/leaders are falling into a very Victorian, very Western idea of what it means to be a family if they insist on the one right pattern being mom doing the nurturing, while dad brings home money in a nuclear family setting. All over the rest of the world, women are working small businesses as they have kids because if they don’t help their husbands provide, their families will starve. In Asian countries, often families live with multiple generations in one home. Therefore grandparents do a lot of the nurturing while the parents work. In some families here in the US, there are attempts to co-parent. These seem like very acceptable alternatives to me, which provide kids with stable, loving families. Alternatives which absolutely follow the very worthy principle of raising children in strong, loving environments.


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12/26/2005 2:40 PM  

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