A friend recently shared a podcast on Facebook with these questions: “This REALLY spoke to my heart today. Are we raising our daughters to think of marriage as plan A; career/education as plan B? Is this biblical thinking?” She followed up by asking me (and several other women) for our thoughts on it. I thought I’d share my response here, in hopes it might spark some conversation and encourage some of you.
Jen, I’m not sure if/when I’ll have time to listen to that podcast, so I don't know what direction they went with it. But I can share my own thoughts on this topic with you.
First, the term “Plan B” in this scenario has always rubbed me the wrong way, at least since I came into an understanding of God’s sovereignty. While I do believe in being prudent, this makes it sound as though God has given a young woman a desire to be a stay-at-home-wife/mom, yet she may need to venture outside of this plan just in case God doesn’t come through. That may not be what is intended, but it kind of comes across that way.
So here’s what I think. If a young lady has a God-given desire to be a stay-at-home-wife/mom, encourage that. As you encourage that, knowing that fulfillment of that desire may be deferred indefinitely, also encourage her to pursue development of her God-given gifts and abilities. If she has a creative bent, help her to explore many different expressions of that bent. If she is good with children, either formally teaching or informally caring/nurturing them, help her to explore that. This young lady may be interested in science, math, mountaineering, literature – help her to explore. This exploration may or may not include college or formal training. All the while, continue to also train her in the home arts, as they’ll likely be needed whatever path she follows. I think (and I’ve probably been guilty of this) some parents are afraid that if their daughter pursues a college degree or the like, she will desire to become a career woman and abandon any thought of being a SAHM for their grandchildren. For homeschoolers, especially, this can have very scary implications!
Here’s what these parents are forgetting. This beautiful young woman is a masterpiece of our Creator. He made her, He numbers her days, He holds her. Only He can direct her heart. We are stewards of the gift of our children, but as they get older, our stewarding influence must lessen and they must begin to steward their own lives. This is hard. I hate to break it to the parents of toddlers out there, but raising young adults is the hardest work you’ll ever do. It’s probably not as hard physically, but it is much harder emotionally and spiritually. It’s heart work, and it’s a dance. I don’t know that I’ll ever figure out all the steps to this dance (the rhythm changes so often!). But I’m thankful to know Who has all of these steps planned out.
I am case in point.
When I was in high school, I set some lofty goals for myself. I had a strong aversion to any kind of secretarial work. I wanted to be Vice President of a corporation (with a male secretary, no less). I worked to earn a full-ride scholarship to a university in my state. I was on my way.
But then God intervened in the form of a great humbling and a God-chasing young man.
As I worked my way through my freshman year, it was such a struggle. College coursework didn’t come as easily to me as high school, but it was also harder to put my heart into it. Much of it seemed irrelevant to me, and some was downright offensive (such as the pornographic film played for my health class). But I buckled down and persevered. In December, that young man shared with our church that he was feeling a calling to full-time ministry and, in February, we were engaged. I struggled through that second semester, explored changing my major from marketing to… what? In the end, I pursued a backward transfer to a local community college with the end goal of completing an Associate’s degree (which I did do, after we were married). It was very humbling, and it took God changing my heart for me to relinquish my plan to follow His.
Guess what job I held during our engagement? Yup. I became a secretary. At my church (best job I ever had). Guess what job I held while Jeff was pursuing seminary degrees? Yup. Secretary again.
It wasn’t really until we began thinking about having a second child that I felt a real yearning to be a stay-at-home-wife/mom. God has provided a way for me to follow this new career (in some really amazing ways, actually). And those secretarial skills have served me well in not only assisting my husband in his work, but have also helped me earn income through several work-from-home jobs over the years.
You know, for many of my growing up years, my mother was a SAHM. In fact, she was the penultimate SAHM, a real Proverbs 31 woman – cooked from scratch, made clothes for us, made our home feel like home. She did occasionally work outside the home as well; even then, we knew that her focus remained on us, her family. When my heart was turned homeward, I had a great example to follow. The Lord had provided that, as well.
Talk with your daughter, model for your daughter, release her to explore, and trust God with her steps. Dance with her and enjoy this season of life.