Saturday, May 13, 2006

Restoring the Dignity of the Home

There is a mentality going around that money solves everything. It is not so much the money that makes a home what it should be, as it is people behaving in their proper roles. To restore the dignity of the home, men must work for a living and be the family providers and women must be the keepers of the home. If a man has the conviction and determination to work, he can find work, even temporary work, until the kind of work he really wants becomes available. Money is important, but it is firstly important to work, and the money will follow.

Not only should he work, he should eagerly seek the opportunity to care for women and children. If he does not want to work, he should not marry. If he is married, whether he agrees with it or not, the decision is made and the die is cast--he must work to provide,or he will reap the consequences: degradation, poverty, sorrow and a failed life.

Men can work, no matter what the job (short of doing something that harms the family), because his presence in the workforce exposes him to future employers and people who would recommend him. If he is laying about at home, no one will see him or recognize his potential. He must get out and work, even if it does not give everything he desires. It is a stepping stone to something better in the future, but he must also be on the lookout for other opportunities. Even if he isn't in his chosen field of work, he must not be without work or a wage. If worse comes to worse and there is just no hiring, he can at least use his off time to repair the house, mow the lawn, and volunteer to improve the property. The point is, he must work if he is to help restore the dignity of the home.

Money does help and it must be adequate, but some money is better than no money, and can lead to more, so he must find whatever temporary employment he can, as if it were an emergency, and restoring the dignity of the home is an emergency today. He must not ask his wife to go to work, because being a provider is his responsibility, and to ask her to do so, makes him less of a man. He can always be on the lookout for something better than his current job, but he must not be unemployed. There is always work to be had, even if it is not the ideal job. It doesn't mean he'll be settling for less than the best. It can be temporary work. The temp. agencies often have plenty of work for those who will work.

If a man does not work, he must cut down on his pleasures: he doesn't need to drink beer, over-eat, or go to the movies, go bowling, or other places of vice and entertainment, during unemployment. "If a man will not work, neither should he eat." The thought of living this statement, should scare him to work. Barring serious injury or illness, a man should work, and make an honest living. Even if he has no wife, has only a wife and no children, he should work. Our sons always wanted to work.From the time they were boys, you couldn't restrain them from working. It was just inside of them to naturally want to work. They tried many different things before settling down to one particular kind of work, and today, even though they have steady jobs, they are capable of doing many different things to earn a living.

Not all work is hard, back-breaking work, and not all work is interesting. Nonetheless, it is the principle that we follow. His work may not always seem worthwhile, or fulfilling, but it achieves the ultimate end: to make provision for his family. To deny a man the opportunity to work, is to demean him and reduce his masculinity. In her famous article in American Opinion of the 1960's, author Taylor Caldwell stated at the beginning of the women's "liberation"movement that if women insisted on leaving their homes for careers, the men would stay at home complaining of having a bad back. While there are those who are legitimately injured, many bad backs come from just laying around and being overweight. If a man will not work, he should not eat, the Bible says. If he is not working, he should eat a little less. He will lose some weight and his back problems will go away.

If men refrain from working until they get just the right job which uses all their talents and skills, and has hoards of medical and retirement benefits, they deny themselves the very reason to work: to provide and to be real men. Women can work too, but it will not have the same results. It will cause them to neglect their homes and their families and other social obligations. Sometimes it is impossible to invite women over to encourage them because they are always working outside or inside the home in some business. This cuts them off from the encouragment they need from the fellowship and support of other women, even their own mothers and sisters who may also need them during the day.

Trying to serve the home with a divided heart and divided time, can result in frustration, and a feeling of craziness. You can lose your peace of mind and sense of well-being, when things are not orderly in the family: the husband working, the wife minding the home. No matter what you hear on all those psychology talk shows, women will be forever nervous and the dignity of the home will not be restored when these innate and eternal laws are are violated.

Not only should a woman do the work of the home, she should eagerly seek the opportunity to care for a husband and children, and her own dear house, if she has them. No job is more exciting, and if you think it is, then just think how boring it must be as a man to have to work at jobs he doesn't really enjoy, just to bring home provision for his family so that the wife can manage the home and prepare good meals.

I would much rather be making meals and folding laundry for my own family in my own cozy home, than doing it for a large hospital or a prison. Think about that the next time you think there is no dignity in working at home. Not only can you do it better than an institution, but you can create the kind of atmosphere and decor that suits your family, which is something you cannot do if you work in the public.

Women must also be in the proper alignment, if the home is to be restored and function as it really can. She was created to be a wife, mother and homemaker. If she is not all three of these things, she can be one, or she can help someone else in their role. In the 19th century there were single women who were also career women, yet they knew that their careers were second-best to the home. If a woman is married, she has no choice: she must nurture that relationship and care for the house. If she doesn't intend to do that, she should not marry. If she already has married, it is too late to back out of this role. It is possible, however to make this home life the most dignified thing on earth.

Mary Cassatt was a single woman who painted pictures for a living, but look at who she painted: her sisters children, and many beautiful scenes of family activities. Catherine Beecher was also a single woman, who was an author. Look at the pieces she wrote: books on how to make a kitchen less formidable to the homemaker. She was the inventor of the modern kitchen with its white appliances, white walls, windows that looked out on the kitchen garden, and spacious, cheerful rooms in which to work. She brought the kitchen out of the darkness into the light. Even though these women were not married, they participated a great deal with their own families and helped make life at home better.

Work at home is also sometimes less than ideal. She may not have the kind of kitchen she likes or the atmosphere she wants, and money may be short. Nevertheless, her job is to guard, guide, and rule the household. She has to create an atmosphere in that home that helps the family to function peaceably and happily. It used to come natural to women when the culture of the home was predominate. Their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers were homemakers. Now a woman can be totally bewildered as to how to make the home function as it should and restore the dignity of the house family life.

If she is single and doesn't ever intend to be a wife in the true sense, or a mother and homemaker, and finds the whole idea repugnant, she should not get married and not have children. It is not fair to the family to neglect them while she pursues a career. If she doesn't intend to settle down and make home life dignified and glorious and all it can be, she should not marry. If she is married and neglects her duty as a wife and homemaker, she will live with the results of chaos, mental instability, troubled home relationships and lack of stability--even financial stability, for being a homemaker requires careful accounting.

The house is just a structure, but if you want to restore dignity to home life, what you do inside that house really matters. It isn't just a place to come in and loll about because people have nothing better to do. It is important that this place have a sense of dignity.

To restore the dignity of the home, there are some things we have to eliminate:

Too many outsiders: Too many people coming in and out of your home that you are not related to, water down the thickness of a family, including the brother that never works, or the friends that come so often they neglect their own homes and rob you of the time you need for your own family. Limiting these to special guests, friends who reinforce what you are doing, and dinners for company, helps the family work together as a unit to serve others. People coming in an out all day and night, or just "hanging out" puts strain on the family and ruins the bonding of a family. Family members don't feel free to be who they really are, express themselves to one another, confide, or work out personal beliefs, when there is too much outside interference.

Too many things to look after: Paring down can be a great stress reducer. If there are heaps of clothes on the bedroom floor, maybe it is time to get rid of all but the necessities. Families function better when members each have a few good, high quality items of clothing for the appropriate use and occasions. To determine what has to go, have a look at the work you are doing and take note of the things you are always picking up and putting away. If you lived without them, it would be less to look after. One cleaning journal that I read suggested that every drawer and cabinet, every surface and table, should have a blank area on it. This is good practice in restraint and prevents a build up of "things."

Too much to do: How many days do you have filled up with activities and appointments? Have you considered cancelling it all just for the experience of being at home? You will be amazed at the amount of things you think can only be done "somewhere else" that you can actually do at home. I'm not suggesting that you tie yourself down to the house, but that such a whirlwind lifestyle is not good for the dignity of the home.When you think of dignity, do you think of madly rushing about, or do you think deliberate, meaningful activity and quiet repose?

Too much talking: Talk from the outside consists of radio on all the time, broadcasts and information shows on television, and telephone calls. Noise from the inside can be too much talk about every little thing, and screaming children, yapping dogs. This noise creates stress for the home, and it is not necessaray. One family I know purposed not to speak or make noise unless their words were beneficial to other members of the family. We tried it and I still remember it as the start of something wonderful for our family--a habit we still enjoy, which helped maintain the dignity of our home.

And now here are some things in the home that there are not enough of:

Not enough meal preparation and eating together.
Not enough vegetable gardens in our back yards.
Not enough soothing music.
Not enough singing together.
Not enough discussions of the deep issues of life, such as purpose, responsibility, family, and so forth.
Not enough home libraries with uplifting books..
Not enough beauty outside and inside the house -- plants, decorating, displaying your grandmothers treasured doilies and teacups, etc.
Not enough letter writing.
Not enough home improvement. There is always something to do to make the house a desireable place to stay so that the family doesn't always want to go somewhere else to have their needs met.
Not enough creativity.
Not enough cleanliness and order.
Not enough hospitality. You need not knock yourself out to do this: even if you entertain once a year, you will have the entire year to plan it. Once a year is more than many people entertain. I don't mean taking someone to a restaurant and a place of entertainment, but to invite them to your home, for a limited time, to enjoy a meal or an afternoon tea, or a cool drink on the patio.

Too much of some things and not enough of other things, reduce the dignity of the home. To build up the importance of home life, there are a few things we can do.

Dress with dignity. I don't mean dress up or dress for dinner. I just mean put on clean clothes each day and act like you are going to see someone important. I can understand if you have to drive a tractor or work in the yard, but even those jobs seem to have more dignity if you start out prepared in the morning.

Have a ritual that you can follow that keeps you from starting the day with a bang, with a bunch of chaotic noise and rushing about.

Prepare the night before so that you won't wake up to discouragement, by going through the house and putting it back into order--not heavy cleaning , but just order and serenity for the next day.

Make your home a beautiful place to look at, inside and out, and your family will feel different than other families and more bonded to their own. When this is done, family members who become a little disgruntled may discover that other people's homes and other places, are quite lacking in the ingredients that make a home.

Treat the house as though it were a special place reserved for only the best things to happen. People don't need to "hang around" your house unless they are helping to improve it or working or are members of the family. Members of the family need to treat the house with respect and the family members with respect. They should watch the words of their mouths, and the way they are dressed that they don't offend others in the home. They should guard the property carefully and not abuse furniture or household items. It should be a place of peace and quiet, unless more is called for.

In restoring the dignity of the home, think of some of the places you where you have felt dignity and analyze the ingredients. They probably included light, cheerfulness, cleanliness, courtesy, encouragement, inspiration, and all the things that gave you a feeling of goodness. You can adapt these principles to your own home and bring dignity back to the family.

photograph from


~ Tracy ~ said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman, thank you for this wonderful article! Your writings always inspire me to be my best & make a lovely home for my family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman,
I enjoyed this article so much. I plan to share this with my daughter and print it to be placed on my desk in my bedroom, to have handy for review. This article is a real inpiration. These are the kind of words that I believe the Bible is speaking of when it tells the older women to be teachers of good things and that they admonish the young women. Although, I am not so young anymore, these kinds of words are still a blessing to me.
Thanks so much. Denise

Donna said...

Mrs. Sherman:

What wise words this article contained. I also plan to counsel my daughter that if a man shows an inclination to be lazy and not work then he's not the man for her. So many young women just want to be with someone so badly that they will overlook laziness. They just don't realize until a few years later that this is a mistake that will cause great regret in the home.

Thank you for another encouraging post.


Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Mrs. Sherman:

What wise words this article contained. I also plan to counsel my daughter that if a man shows an inclination to be lazy and not work then he's not the man for her. So many young women just want to be with someone so badly that they will overlook laziness. They just don't realize until a few years later that this is a mistake that will cause great regret in the home.

Thank you for another encouraging post.


Andrea said...

Mrs. Sherman, Thank you for this post! I am 33 (single, never-married, no children) and will be leaving the "career world" for the life of a wife and homemaker in six months when I get married. I have always "paid my way" so making this transition suddenly upon marriage to homemaker was causing me some angst because in the back of my mind I feel like I won't be paying my way anymore. My fiancé and I both greatly desire to have Christian home, we both deeply believe in the role of the wife as a homemaker, but there was always that nagging feeling sitting there making me feel like I need to somehow bring in a paycheck too. So thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. You have a wonderful gift for encouraging and inspiring women.

Monnie said...

Have you ever read the book "Dressing with Dignity," by Colleen Hammond? It's a recent publication, but absolutely EXCELLENT!!!

I only mention it because you recommended we "dress with dignity." I agree that this is VERY important - after all, you act the way you're dressed, just naturally - and totally recommend the book "Dressing with Dignity"....


Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Sherman,

Thank you so much for your inspiring articles. I always enjoy your words of wisdom.

I have got a brief twinge of sadness on reading this article, though. I was fortunate enough to inherit a good deal of money, and now neither my husband nor I work. We live together on my inheritance, and I feel that I am a good Christian homemaker, with two sons and two daughters.

So we have no money issues, but he does not work, and he did not provide the money that runs our home. Is this the wrong way?

Should I ask him to get a job to me the family provider, and put the inheritance into some sort of trust fund for our sons? I do not want to reduce his masculinity. Equally I do not want to cause my daughters the same problems later!

Thank you in advance for your advice,
Sheryl B. (no website)

Lady Lydia Speaks said...

Work is actually good for a man, and it is nice when he already has an income and can choose the profession that he really likes. Perhaps since he already has an income, he can choose to do something that he finds worthwhile? Like you said, your children need that role model in their father, so that they have a right example in the world of what a man should be.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia!


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