Friday, November 6, 2015

Let's Talk About Why Christian Mothers Work Outside the Home

So- on my last post- I indicated that I was not likely to discuss the WHY behind working mothering on social media. I still think that this is a good general rule because I don't want to open up my readers to hurtful words and judgment.

 But I was having a conversation with a friend and she really got me thinking. She said- "We are called to love our neighbors. We cannot love, if we do not KNOW- knowing is about names and stories. Shame silences. It is not concerned with knowing" Lisa-Jo Baker
I don't want any more wears me down- that is why I started this blog in the first place because I needed to talk about being a Christian Working Mother.

So- I want to start a conversation- just a conversation- because what we don't talk about can often become a place of silent fear, shame or guilt. And we all want to be known- right? Let's try to facilitate just a little of that here in this space.

 So let's talk... first about why it is hard to discuss WHY Christian moms work-

  • For those of us who work outside the home- we want to know why people feel the need to know why? Right? We secretly wonder- if they want to know WHY- it is likely because they don't approve or think that our decision is not the best one for our children and family.  A response to this is...maybe we need to be better prepared to answer the question without being offended.  Maybe we need to learn how to discuss our mothering and working status with more ease and maybe we can learn how to do that by first just talking about it in a safe place... 
  • If we are the ones asking the questions (maybe if we are a stay-at-home Moms)- it is because we love being home with our kids and truly feel that Moms who work outside the home are- hurting or neglecting their children- maybe we have even seen this to be true with someone we know personally. Maybe we sincerely worry that the kids are not being put first and that upsets us. A response to this...maybe we need to remember that choices women make about mothering are always accompanied with big feelings. We also need to remember that sensitive questions are welcome in relationships that are well-established and solid. So we need to tread gently into these conversations with people we have invested our lives into.  

There are also many women who do not question why another mom works but just does life with them, gives them love and support and no judgment which of course is awesome.

 I thought I could start simply by sharing from my experience-

These are the reasons that the women I know work outside the home:

·         They are the one who holds the health insurance in the family. Their husband is self-employed and healthcare is expensive. These women have been blessed with good healthcare at their jobs.
·         They have an injured spouse who cannot work.

·         They are single Moms.

·         They feel called to use their God-given gifts to serve in the workplace or in full-time ministry which is also their vocation.

·         In order to afford to live in a safe neighborhood with a good school system, they need two incomes to afford their home.

·         They are helping to pay for their husbands to go through school to reach their career goals.

·         They thrive in the workplace- they have personality-types that are best suited for daily work and the structure of working.

·         They feel that they are better mothers when they have been given the opportunity to work during the day. For various reasons- maybe they have tried to stay home- and have found that they struggled immensely with being home all day.

·         They have accrued debt-possibly due to poor choices, possibly not- possibly due to burdensome healthcare costs or unplanned emergencies. Whatever the reason- they need to work to become debt-free, which they know is honoring to God.

The list above all represent real women that I know. I am not saying that these are the only reasons women work...
Most of these Moms that I know do have moments of struggle with their working status.

They also have moments where they enjoy their work.

They have moments where they wonder if they are making the right decision.

They are mostly just trying really hard to do the best they can.

All of these women made these choices thoughtfully with prayer and much heart-work.
Again-these are women I know. Every woman is different, their stories are different.

Why do YOU work? You don't have to answer but if you want an opportunity to have a voice on this topic, to join in the conversation- speak up.
And stay tuned because my next post will be some stories about how Christian Working Moms are making it WORK for THEM.
Lots of love!



Aimee Stafford said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. I think we become offended by the question because we assume it is a judgement when it is often an innocent question. You also were right on track with why I work. I am a compilation of the reasons you gave and, to be honest, different reasons motivate me on various days. Funny enough, I also know other moms who work outside the home that think it is crazy that I would like to stay home one day.

Elizabeth Jones said...

Thanks for commenting Aimee! I was unsure how to list the reasons and then it just occurred to me to think of the women I know personally- it made it easier:) All of these women are women I admire and I know are seeking the Lord. I am excited to see some conversation develop about this topic. I think the more we talk about it- the less of an "issue" it may become- we start small- amongst ourselves, then we continue in our families, communities, churches, and my prayer is that working Moms will stop feeling like they are misunderstood, alone or judged. Gotta start somewhere- right? Love u!!! We need to get together! I know Jack and Lincoln would have so much fun and Benjamin would love your Ella. :)

Christina said...

I recently attended my son's Halloween party at preschool, and a stay-at-home mom I had just met asked, "So you stay home with your son?" I found myself almost apologizing that I work. I immediately explained why and how I wish I could stay home but can't afford to do so. Just as you described, I tend to fall into that trap of assuming a question (which could be very innocent) is meant as a judgment...mainly because I already feel guilty for working and wish I didn't have to. After I finished my speedy explanation, I felt so silly and realized I had given her way more info than she had probably bargained for!

Melonie Morales said...

I'm the "In order to afford to live in a safe neighborhood with a good school system, they need two incomes to afford their home." Mom.

We lived in a gang infested area where we literally would go from the car straight to the apartment, shut the door, eat, sleep and count the minutes till we could leave again. our kids didnt have friends or play with the neighborhood kids because they were usually the younger sibling of a gang member or were about the age (10) where recruitment would start. We also had numerous crimes happen to us like stolen bikes, car, and a home invasion. Not to mention the poor city public school system. Needless to say, as soon as the Lord provided a way for us to find a home in a safe area, we hightailed it outta there! But without my income, we'd probably still be in that place.

To be honest, I'm more of the crafty -"martha stewaart"- entrepreneur type but find myself in an a somewhat mundane office job. Dont get me wrong, God has Blessed me greatly in this place. But like many women, I'd jump at the chance to work part-time or stay home. But thats not what God has for me right now and I'd rather be in his will than to get what I want only to find out that He's not in it.

So, Plain and simple, I work cause my family is better off that way. It really erks me when I hear people in the church assume that "if only you'll cut back on the extra "toys" you could afford to stay home". I mean how does someone who doesnt know me or my situation suddenly an expert on my personal finances??? Our home cost $160,000. For the city we live in, fining a home in a good school district for that price was miraculous! But that price was the top of our budget. So no, they are not needless toys, no fancy cars or expensive spa trips or whatever! We want to give our kids what they need and yes, a little of what they want as well. I believe having what you need and a little of what you want is a recipe for a good quality of life. Thank You for writing this and asking 'why?' because I wish they was more support and less assumptions and judgement from fellow church people. The fact of the matter is is that Anyone can be forced to go to work if life takes an unexpected turn like death or illness. So stop pointing fingers cause they could be next.

Elizabeth Jones said...


I totally relate to your story about what happened at the Halloween party. When people asked me about my working status I often go into a lengthy explanation about how I have flexible hours, how I telework once a week so that I can have lunch with my son, how I have a lot of leave because I've been at my agency for 10 years so I can attend all field trips and classroom parties – etc. It's almost like a knee-jerk reaction for me. It is really interesting though to not offer a lot of information and just wait and see what the next question or comment is from the person you're talking with. I find that most of the time – I either hear "oh wow – that must be really hard"- which gives me the opportunity to explain how God has provided for me ways to help me thrive as a working mom and all I can do is give glory to God for helping me when the days really are rough. The other thing I hear typically are just questions about what I do for work – and I enjoy talking about my work. Thank you for commenting!

Elizabeth Jones said...


I think it is wonderful that God has provided for you a job so that you don't have to live in such a dangerous neighborhood. My husband and I also considered living in a more challenging neighborhood in order that I can work less hours – however – when we took a look at the schools that were around those areas, it was just a no-brainer. And our house is nothing fancy. Unfortunately living in the county I live in is very expensive. Our house is small and I drive a used car and I get hand-me-downs from friends for clothing for my kids and toys from the goodwill. Not that I need to explain that to anyone – but there are people that assume that women work outside the home just because they want more money for more things. While that might be true for some and I pray for those women because obviously what they earn will never be enough – it is not true for most of the women that I know. God bless Melonie and thank you for commenting!

Captured By Carol Ann said...

For me it's a combo of the health insurance and the good neighborhood. Yes I could stay home and we could move to PA, but that means my hubby would have a much longer commute and less family time, and we'd still be scraping because his 80/20 company health care rises every year with a $9,000 deductible. We tried going on his health insurance last year as I was part time - he had a spontaneous lung collapsed in June (hello $9K deductible!!) and then my son shattered his humerus and we had to pay 20% (over $2K) of that on top of the deductible. We are just now paying off the last of those bills, and it's only because we had our 3/6 months of expenses (Dave Ramsey, thank you!! ) and I went back to full time this school year that we could do it at all. Ha, you're right about feeling defensive about it, obviously, but I more feel a need to defend it to myself, honestly.