Friday, August 07, 2015

Pressuring Homemakers to Seek Employment


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.


Unknown said...

I had another who was a nurse foamy years. We were at home many afternoons by ourself, my brothers and i. I think she had to work so we could eat. If she didn't work, I'm not sure where we would be. So this influenced my decision to stay home and be a housewife and mom. I got remarried 12 years ago to a godly Christian man. He is older than I. We have 6 kids. 3 in college 3 at home,ages 11,14 and 17. There are many times I feel guilty for not working and helping to provide for the family. I do work at home cooking,cleaning,laundering, making appointments and you know. :) I have several friends who work because they must. I feel bad being able to stay home when they cannot. This post came at a good time. Christina

Polly said...

You are right that sometimes not engaging in discussion is the best approach of all. I don't get many remarks, other than "homeschooling! I could never do that!" I just smile.

I was once told by someone close to me that I am so intelligent I should be working in policymaking or the legal field so that I could "make an impact." I simply said "I'm making an impact right where I am!" And he couldn't really disagree, given that I'm raising children, serving my family and community, and teaching the next generation, and that ended the conversation.

I work pretty hard at my vocation, and I feel good about it! Others can see this and respect it. I have found that confidence and cool self-assurance really do go a long way!

Lydia said...

Yes confidence is key here. Saying you love what you do and you are very happy is a deterrent to those who dig. The wolf circles to see who is weak and who might be timid.

Unknown said...

I usually smile and say, "I guess we each have to live our lives as we believe is best!" I sometimes follow that with another smile, a little hug, or gentle pat on the hand. I then ask them about something I know they enjoy and we change the topic and move on.

Lydia said...

"Oh I am so busy. There is so much to do at home and never time to do it all. I know you understand!"

I saw someone who used to be a cashier at Safeway, in line with groceries and asked her if she was off work. She said she had retired and I quickly guesses correctly that she was not having any problem finding things to do at home. I said, "now that you are retired, you are probably busy!" And she emphatically agreed.

Anonymous said...

People can be so rude...They should be interested in their own lives instead of dictating others what to do.

anonymous said...

During the 1970's many women in my neighborhood left home to go to work. Much of the time their children would come to play with my kids and congregate at my home after school until their mothers got home from work, many times well after dark and the dinner hour. I never asked a dime for feeding their children snacks or entertaining them for those hours.

Some of them had the nerve to confront me about being lazy and not contributing to the finances of my family, even though my family was never in financial debt.
I would politely share that anytime they wanted to donate to the daycare and Koolaide and cookie fund for their child that it would be greatly appreciated. The conversation never went any farther.

Another favorite argument was that I needed to go to work so I could find myself. My answer was: Titus2 from the bible. That I knew who was and quite content with being a homemaker.

Janet Westrup

Unknown said...

Another expertly-written article Lady Lydia. You have such a wonderful way with words! I love visiting your blog.

I've been married for 20 years, and a homemaker since my first child was born, 18.5 years ago. You are so right. Critics (wolves) will seek out the weak and unconfident, and attack them when they are least expecting it, simply because they know they are easy targets and can. I know it well. The longer I'm home, the older I get, the more confident I've gotten in my chosen profession. I'm rarely attacked anymore, and when I am, I do usually respond back with a question. If I do answer their question(s). I answer them confidently and in a firm tone of voice that I expect they won't be asking me anymore questions, or telling me what they think I should be doing ;) It's just too bad it takes growing in experience to learn this. I guess that means I'm slowly becoming an older woman-so important for me to pass on my experience with my 3 daughters and other young women I know.

I also live on the the Alberta prairies and have my whole life. Love it here. I love hearing the stories of my late father in law, who was born in 1924 and raised here. Sounds like he talked in phrases similar to your mother. My how I will miss that generation of people. They saw so many changes in our world during their lifetime. Truly amazing.

Bless you Lydia, and the work you do on your blog and elsewhere for our God-given, extremely important rolls as homemakers. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you dearly.

I must go prepare dinner for my family of 7 now before they all starve lol. Have a wonderful evening.

Jaclyn Juliette said...


I'm a 36-year-old stay at home mother here in Manhattan, NYC. I remember feeling like I'd have to fend off so many "wolves" like mentioned in your article when I made the decision to be a SAHM 8 years ago. I felt like I needed to have a rehearsed answer........but I've been pleasantly surprised at just how understanding people here are!
I think the younger generation is making a big change back to appreciating the simpler days of mothers being home. Of course this isn't true of everyone but a lot of today's young people are returning home. I think because many are the "latch-key" children of the 80s and they've sadly experienced first hand how mothers working only led to a whole mess of home and social problems. Now these 80s children, all grown up, are choosing a simpler life for themselves, just as I have done. I now have two young children, I am of course still a stay at home mom, and I've never regretted it once! I'm too intelligent to let the "media" tell ME that "you can't raise children on one income anymore!" Nonsense! I enjoy the freedom of being there for my children, cooking healthy organic meals from scratch, and not being stressed at the end of the day! It makes me cry when I think of children in daycare when they probably want their mommy above anything.
- Jaclyn Juliette, NYC

Sandi said...

Thank you so much for this timely writing. I've been an at-home wife and mother for the past 16 years. There have been times I have not appreciated this incredible blessing and found myself buying into the lies that I should be more, do more. The battle to have women leave their homes is very real. Right now, the battle for me comes not from those on the outside but from within the very walls of my home. Both my husband and my mother are pressuring me to complete my college education and pursue a job outside the home. The reasons are numerous, "we need the additional income", "the kids don't need you as much anymore" ... and yet I am homeschooling 2 children in 11th grade, 1 in 9th grade and we're foster parents to a 2 yr old little girl. My heart physically aches at the thought of having to leave my children and my home. My husband is fine with me being home but doesn't feel it's necessary especially when there are bills to be paid. We have made some foolish financial decisions in the past but recently started working together to make better choices and get ourselves out of debt. That arrangement however has now become a battering ram with which to try to convince me that I need to go back to work. I am working hard to be mindful of our finances and do as much as I can at home to help ease that strain but it doesn't ever seem to be enough. I don't know what else to do but pray.

Lydia said...


It is still your choice and your free will and everyone that pressures you knows that fact. Otherwise why would they bother to try to convince you all the time? Because basically they know it has to be by your own will that you would leave home. So you have that power to stay home. If you really did not have the freedom to stay home, one of them would get you dressed in the morning, force you into the car, and force you to look for a job. Until someone actually takes you forcibly out of the house and forcibly makes you fill out a job application, you do t have anything to worry about. Listening to children play when one tells the other one they should do something, is actually funny. The one being pressured to do something he does not want to do, says to the other one, "Oh yeah? What are you going to do about it?" The other person can do nothing. Getting people to do something they don't want to do does not require any force of they can convince you through persuasion and pressure. A kingdom never has to be physically conquered if the enemy can cleverly make the citizens feel guilty and turn themselves over to the enemy. Their power lies in creating guilt and convincing you that you are not cooperating, that you are hard headed, that you won't listen to reason, that you are living in a dream world. You may need to ask them where their faith is.

Lydia said...

And if you do give up your home life and seek employment elsewhere, then you are a breadwinner and you cannot expect to do both jobs. Does your husband do half the housework now? If he doesn't , he won't do it when you go out to work, either. You have to make it clear to everyone that if you are expected to being home the bacon, you cannot also be expected to clean and look after children, do laundry, cook, grocery shop, errands and everything you do, as well. It helps to make a list of every thing you do for the home, down to the smallest detail, including time spent at your desk or table paying bills and organizing important papers, keeping track of social obligations, helping others, appointments, etc. then share the list and ask everyone who is pressuring you to volunteer for some of those jobs so you can be free to get another job. I think most family me members with jobs outside the home do very little work inside the home if the wife and mother does most of it, so I doubt they are going to change their habits once you go to work. Stand your ground and hold on to your beliefs. If you give in, they will conclude that your beliefs are not very important to you and that you will cave in if enough pressure is exerted on you. Youmcannreverse the pressure by saying "you are repeating yourself and we have already discussed this and you k ow the has not changed. You will be the first to know if it does."

Anonymous said...

I agree with Lady Lydia: who is going to go force you to work if you don't want to. I know everyone I meet is pressuring me but I do not listen for I am not married to them.

Sandi said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you for your admonition to stand my ground and hold onto my beliefs. The Lord reminded me last night that there have been times I've wavered in my commitment to the calling He gave me and when I do, the comments and subtle attacks begin and I begin to doubt and fear. My husband is a pretty easy going kind of guy and he gets very uncomfortable when I start to question myself and my purpose. He counts on me to be stable-minded and not wishy-washy. My mom is a career woman who doesn't understand why I won't join the work force and help support my family. When I appear uncertain, she becomes very vocal and that affects my husband (and myself!) as well. I spent the day praying over my activities which included cleaning off a bookshelf (long overdue) as well as organizing and sorting through various drawers of school supplies. My eldest daughter (16) voiced her surprise and delight that I was doing these things and that my attitude seemed much improved. I hadn't realized that I was so stressed out these past few weeks that she didn't feel she could approach me. She wants to learn to bake bread tomorrow and I'm all too happy to get in the kitchen with her.