Many homemakers claim they have never received any pressure or rude, pushy remarks toward them about "getting a job" but there are also women at home who endure the disapproval of acquaintances and relatives. Some of the accusations leveled at them can be quite astonishing.
We have had some discussions at home about how to handle the imposing questions and unkind remarks and have come up with some interesting ways to relieve the pressure, and that is what I am posting about today.
Some people sense timidity in other people and they feel emboldened to make cutting remarks. There seems to always be a "wolf" who circles the sheep looking for a weakness. Wolves sense fear and are attracted to those that seem vulnerable. Many of the rude questions are asked during the day in shopping or essential errands. To answer them you might ask a question in return:
"If no one stayed home, how would institutions, companies or professions like yours stay in business? Who would do the shopping, take a suit to the cleaners, use the postal services at the post office, visit the dentist for a daytime appointment? All these places would have to be open for trade only at night when everyone has quitted work."
Another explanation is: "I am retired and now devoted to my home. My being out of the job market leaves jobs open for those who really need them, such as women who have no one to provide for them."
Stop trying to answer to defend yourself, but rather, answer to educate the other person. Someone recently told me the following, and it makes a good answer:
"One of the most popular driving forces behind the exploding home-based business network marketing industry is "to quit my job and spend more time with my family." Many women who work outside the home want to be home."
The best thing you can do is ask a question in return and put the burden of the thinking on the accuser:
"Do you ask this question of every person who makes her home her career?"
"Why does my choice bother you? Have I ever criticized your choice?"
"Would you be willing to read my website where I explain it more fully?"
You might also appeal to the popular modern focus on personal happiness, which people hold in such high esteem. The words "choice" and "happy" and "lifestyle" are practically religious experiences these days and are held up as ultimate authorities in making decisions.
"This makes me happy. Are you happy with your choice?"
"Would you be happy if someone tried to deny you your choice of career?"
If you are ever accosted at the grocery store by someone you know that is insanely curious about your life, you might hold up an onion and ask, " Have you ever used this kind of onion? Is it a good kind? Have you ever looked it up on the web or studied how to prepare it?" Some people don't consider grocery shopping very intellectual, but most homemakers know enormous amounts about everything they buy, down to the smallest scientific and economic detail.
When you get a phone call from another person who typically upsets you, you can say, "I need to get off the phone now and clean the kitchen floor. Can you give me some advice? What kind of cleaner works best for the new vinyl wood floors? Is there a homemade cleaner I can use? What is the best mop? We need to keep this house is great condition so that we won't have to pay for replacements or repairs and can save money and go to Europe next year." Every time such people call you, ask another question about choice of cookware ( like how much of an inch should the stainless steel layer be for the fry pan to be good quality---I'm telling you, most homemaker really know this and take it seriously. The questioner probably thinks you are a pushover, but your questions will soon stop their questions.)
For those good and kind people who aren't really accusing or harassing you, but really want to know, you might say:
"It is something I believe in. I don't have time to go into it right now, but if you would be willing to look at my blog for further information, here is my card."
"It is basically what I believe in doing. I want to be a homemaker and I was taught to be a homemaker by my mother, whose mother also taught her. Was your grandmother or great grandmother a homemaker?" They may answer "yes" but qualify it by saying it was because there were no fast food restaurants to work in, and no factories nearby in those days.
We are supposed to believe the reason our forebearers were homemakers was because they "couldn't find jobs". It's tragic the way people are deceived by revisionist history that claims women were all forced to work in the fields or factories and no one was happy at home, everyone was sick, dying and frightfully poor. They rationalize from this erroneous thinking that women must seek employment outside the home.
Of course it would take too long to argue all that when answering a passing remark, but I wanted to insert it to show you what is really on some people's minds.
Those who will not take no for an answer need to be told:
"I will go to work outside my home when you find me the job that fits my qualifications and is the right job for me." Of course if you are following The Titus 2 model, the only. Job that fits the description will be at home.
" I have had a good upbringing and I know what I am doing. Just let me take care of it."
"I value my freedom. Do you?"
"If you will come and do my housework to my specifications and satisfaction, then I will seek a job."
"If I ever completely finish my housework and can get ahead of it for a couple of months, I might consider seeking other employment."
When you get a very persistent interrogation by someone who will not leave you alone, you might put the matter to rest by asking these questions, remembering that the words "help" and "problem" are also trigger words for people these days, which get their attention:
"How long has this been bothering you?"
"Have you tried to get help to understand it or clear up your confusion over the matter?"
"I don't think it is healthy for you to be so obsessed with the way I live. If you want to learn more so that you too can be a homemaker, that is all well and good. But if you are just criticizing me, that is not good for you. It will eventually wreak havoc with your health and maybe even give you ulcers."
If the person is in your congregation of church members, you may appeal to his or her spiritual obligations:
"You know, Betty, I have always tried to give you an encouraging word and have never criticized you. I hope you will do the same to me. We are supposed to encourage one another into love and good works. My staying home is all of that. I am doing a good work for my family and showing them love by staying home. I hope you will continue to encourage me to live the Titus 2 role, so please pray for me that I can do it well and succeed in my home life."
You will find that the critics are rarely spiritually motivated and rarely concerned about those who have a real heart for staying home. They are more socially conscious and believe everything we do must be done for a larger group, and individuality and choices like staying home have no place. Yet they would think twice about this question:
"Would you have any objection if I told you I am an artist and that I spend my day in my studio at home? I am sure a host of other women, and men, have their offices and work at home."
In a way, you are an artist, and your studio is your home. You are creating something and it is a work of art to you, even if it is lovingly preparing a meal.
Consider other questions which include the words "problem" and "help":
"Would it help if we made an appointment to get together at my house to study this problem so that you could learn the way more perfectly?" (Acts 18:26)
Finally, something my mother used to say when anyone questioned her beliefs or her way of life or set in to give her a lecture about what she could be doing:
"You know what your problem is? You worry too much. Try not to worry. It isn't good for you."
Even when a person would try to beat her down with arguments for evolution, abortion, lifestyle, doing away with marriage in favor of living together, trying to persuade her to get a job, and other hot topics that they were challenging my mother with, they got the same answer:
"You know what? You need to settle down and not worry. Just have fun."
It wasn't that she didn't know the answers, but as she got older she was able to discern when someone was trying to trap her or get her into an argument, so she would just tell them to lighten up.
We need to be careful not to spend a lot of time answering people who are not wanting to really learn or better themselves. Some people want to argue in a circle and come back to the same question again and again. They will not be satisfied no matter how many ways you answer. Sometimes when you give up and agree with them or say "have it your way" they are upset that the argument is finished and will still not quit. They are the ones that need to be told:
"My advice for you is not to let it bother you. Just don't worry about it."
My mother was Canadian, brought up on the Alberta prairies back in the 1920's and 30's, and she had such a nice lilt in her speech when saying things like this. It was a cheerful little "Don't worry about it, okay? There's a good chap." The sound does not come off as well when reading it, even aloud, but if you are Canadian or know older Canadians, especially the prairie women, you can hear it.
All that being said, there are still some things you need to know about the put-downs people give you. I have come to the conclusion that it is not just about homemaking. Some people are wolffish, in that they are always circling the safe little fences of the innocent sheep looking for a way to upset them. A wolf will make sheep nervous enough that they cannot concentrate on their grazing and then they cannot digest their food properly for the nervousness they feel in the presence of a wolf. A distracted sheep will run in the wrong direction, ignore the voice of the shepherd and start watching for the wolf all the time, immobilized. Wolves smell fear and chase it.
Consider this a metaphor to the homemaker who has to meet people that are jealous or pushy or trying to get her to give up and seek other employment. If she gets too rattled and terrorized by such remarks, she cannot concentrate as well on preparing dinner. Her mind will be elsewhere. She cannot focus on her art.
It is good to remember that questions from them will catch you off guard. You will spend a lot of time falling all over yourself to explain, which makes them think are not confident. If you ask a question , you make them to do the work.
You will notice that the one who asks the questions always controls the conversation. If you are a new homemaker and you do not have children yet, you need to learn this integral point because you need to know when your children's questions are really important or if they are trying to control you or change your values. People often use questions to change other people's values. There isn't anything wrong with it but you have to be wise and judge if the question is designed, like the ways of the wolf, to get your mind going in scattered directions so that you can't follow your Shepherd.
There is also the option of just not going there, when it comes to answering. You are not legally or spiritually obligated to answer anyone's questions. Jesus did not always answer questions when he perceived the hearts of the questioners and when he knew it was designed for entrapment. You could always write something in the sand instead :-)
You also need to know and inform other people that the questions they ask can be found on the web. Just type in "why do so many women want to be homemakers?" and there they can sift through the information.