If you haven't read it yet, you may want to check out part 1 first.
Okay, I did promise to help throw the monkey of guilt off our backs, didn't I? So let's get started.
Am I a bad/neglectful mom if I work outside of the home?
Me - No, that's ridiculous! First, some moms don't have a choice. Family finances dictate that mom needs to bring in some income (especially in single-parent homes). Second, while quantity of time certainly does matter, I do believe the old adage that quality is more important. If your time with your child(ren) is limited, you may need to be more intentional about how your time together is spent to feel that you are engaging with and training up your kids, but the fact is you are MOM. Especially in the younger years, your influence has the most impact (regardless of how much or little time you have).
In fact, dare I say that many working moms are better at engaging with their kids than us SAHMs?! Being a SAHM gets you into a particular routine with the household and the kids, and I (maybe you, too?) frequently find myself saying things like, "Not now/ later/ soon/ I just have to get this done first." I tend to think that working moms are less inclined to "put off" their kids in this way.
God's Word - I wonder if, like me, you've read about the Proverbs 31 woman and secretly hated her? She's got it all together! Here are a few things I've noticed about her lately:
- In verse 15, it says she gets up really, ridiculously early to provide food for her family and servants. We often assume that means she's doing the day's cooking in the wee hours. But could it mean that she is out working? Or out in the fields? Or at the market? She may be working outside of the home, while her servant girls are there to tend the children. Maybe not, I'm just sayin'.
- Verse 16 refers to earnings. How does a woman earn money? By working, I presume.
- In verse 17 it says "she sets about her work vigorously." It doesn't say that she sets about her housework, or cooking, or child-rearing.
- While many people use P31 to make their case for being a SAHM, I believe that may be a case of using the Scripture to suit your own agenda. In fact, throughout God's Word, when I search for the word "mother" I cannot find any absolute direction that states, "a good mother must stay home all day long with her children and should never find work outside the home."
Must I homeschool my children in order to fulfill God's parenting requirements?
Me - First, let me say that I have nothing but admiration for parents who homeschool their kids! You gals (and some guys) rock my socks! And I am aware that many of you may disagree with MHO, which is totally cool with me. I welcome your thoughts on the matter!
Of course, you know I am going to say, "no, i don't think God requires us to homeschool our children." If I did, I would be. I know that many homeschooling parents do so because they feel that HS is how God intended children to learn. But there are also many HS parents who do so because they believe it's a matter of personal preference, gifting, and calling. I tend to be from the same camp. Some parents are definitely called to educate their children at home! Some are not. While I admire HS parents (and somewhat envy their ability to do what they do), I want to state clearly that I do NOT believe that either way is the only right way. Neither method is superior, preferable, or without its issues. Both options come with big, fat lists of pros and cons. Good mothers homeschool. Good mothers send their children to public school. Good mothers send their children to private school.
God's Word - One of my favourite passages, Deuteronomy 6:7, is often quoted to encourage parents that they are solely responsible for the education of their children...and for ensuring that all aspects of that education include God. What the Lord is referring to in Deut 6 are the 10 Commandments He laid out for His people in Deut 5.
Can you impress the importance of following God's Commandments on the hearts of your children while they attend a public school? Surely you can! The fact is, our children learn much more about our faith and morals by observing how we live than they do by what we tell them. So we can spend 3-6 hours per day incorporating God's truths into our children's school curriculum, or we can spend every moment we have with our children living out our faith (even if they are spending 6-8 hours of their day, 5 days per week, out of our care).
Research has shown that, regardless of where children spend the majority of their time, their parents remain the #1 influence on their attitudes and actions. There is also substantial evidence to support the assertion found in Proverbs 22:6, Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (Faith Begins at Home, Mark Holmen)
Does every good mom bake and cook like Betty Crocker?
Well, I think you get the point...
Here is the thing: God's Word does not tell us the specifics of how to live out our lives. He has given us The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Commandment, and The Way of Salvation. For all the rest (such as how to be the best mom you can be, or rather - how to be the best mom God wants you to be), He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our paths. You cannot look in the Bible to find answers to questions like: Which job should I take? Should I go on a missions trip to Kalamzoo? Am I supposed to be a stay-at-home mother?
Want to be the perfect mom? Here's my suggestion.... Love God. Let your kids see how much you love God. Love your kids. (If loving your kids is easier for you (as it is for me) when you have something fulfilling to do - such as work or ministry - do it.) Do your best in all the things to do with being a wife, mother, homemaker, friend, servant of God. Sometimes that means getting help - having a housekeeper or a babysitter is NOT unscriptural! And if you've got tough decisions to make, pray and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The most important thing we can all do to be the mothers that God wants us to be is to ABIDE in Christ, wage battle against the enemy, and not let guilt or pride influence our decisions or our relationships. Oh, and for goodness sake, get some other mom friends! Nothing brings more freedom than knowing that we are not alone.
In case you are still looking at your list and tallying your points, know this: God chose YOU to be the mother to YOUR children for a REASON. Trust His judgement.
See ya, monkey!
On a side note, I know that I've got a few friends who read here who do not have children or whose kids are no longer kids living at home. From me to you - there are a lot of mothers out there who need help, love, friendship, encouragement, and maybe a little babysitting! ;) We love it when our community backs us up in raising our children to love the Lord! And if you see one of us in the grocery store with an armload of children, you have no idea how much a smile and a kind word blesses us! God has a special plan for you, too - and if that plan means you are out of the child-rearing phase or you do not have kiddos, know this - God chose YOU for the exact role you are in, around the very people who's lives you have influence in, for a REASON, too!