The Impact Of Working Mothers

By J. Wiley Adams

There is considerable sensitivity surrounding the subject this writer has been assigned. Many mothers have a tendency to take issue with any sermons or material presented on the subject. Not a few husbands will join their wives in taking exception to such teaching. Would it surprise you if we were to declare that many of these sensitive people are preachers, elders, deacons, and their spouses? Why is this so unless such instruction strikes a nerve somewhere and it is possible that we have indeed hit “pay dirt” as it relates to the matter under discussion?

Let us further state, before going into the matter at hand, that we are not against working mothers. That is not the issue. Properly modified, all mothers as well as fathers, ought to work. What we are really discussing is the effect, or impact, it has on our children when mothers work outside the home environment. Do they have a right to do so? I believe, personally, that there are some allowable circumstances that would not only permit a mother to work outside the home, at times she might even be required to do so. All of this being true, it does not mitigate against the basic role of mothers in the home, which is to be “keepers at home” as required in Titus 2:5.

Under the headship of her husband, who is charged with the responsibility of providing for his family, she is to “guide the household” (Eph. 5:22,23; 1 Tim. 5:8,14). This requirement is always true whether there are children or not and whether they may be at home, in college, or married and moved away. It is also true when there is just a husband and wife left in the home.

The truth of the matter is this. Many mothers works outside the home for no better reason than that they elect to. Evidently some do not concern themselves with whether or not it is right for them to do so. Career women are the order of the day and for some mothers in the church a business career is their top priority. Such are in need of getting their priorities straight.

When mothers leave the home to hold down a secular job without due cause, they put a strain on the whole household. A favorite excuse is “we need the money.” But very often that is not the case. What about the children and her husband? Small children particularly need their mother in the home. But, we rush them on through life and put them into day care centers or hire a baby sitter and often pay more out for such services than the wife brings home in her paycheck. The children are put on the regimented schedule, as is the rest of the family. Such schedules can be hectic and nerve-wracking for all concerned. Instead of the home being a place of security, warmth, and well-being, the very opposite is true. This virtually makes the home a “filling station” with self-service and somewhat a “bed and breakfast” affair (if indeed there is any breakfast). In the case of school-aged children, very often they have to get themselves off to school as best they can. Many leave an empty house and have to return to the same house which is still empty. Mom and Dad are both gone. Such children are provided a house key and have been properly named “latch-key children.” It is not good for the children to be at home by themselves. For one thing, it is lonely and depressing. For another it is unsafe. They are wide open to all kinds of dangers, including child molestation, assault, robbery, and so on.

For still another reason it allows them to have too much latitude in what they may choose to do. With no supervision they may elect to go down the street to visit friends (good or otherwise), they might go up to the mall and “hang around” with the bunch or waste their quarters on the video games. They might decide to invite some “friends” over to the house for trial smoking, drinking, drugging or sexual experimentation. Not a few illegitimate children have been conceived in one of the bedrooms of such a home (?). Under such circumstances, with no supervision, one can only hope that some spiritual training has come through and that they will respond to such.

A further consideration is that of the TV and VCR which most homes have. In the case of the TV, there may be several around the house. They have free reign to turn on anything they want to. We well know that much of what is shown on TV these days is not fit to see. With the introduction of the VCR, rented films are part of the pattern in many homes. The children can rent these either themselves or through a friend and can gain access to pornographic-type material as easily as buying a comic book. You say, “Well, my children are not that kind. We have never had any trouble with them. ” It is to be hoped that this is true. However, this is simplistic and ignores the circumstances. Small children and teenagers need a mother in the home to keep things running smoothly and to give the children a sense of security that all is well. A mother who is unwilling to provide this for her children is scarcely the mother the Scriptures talk about.

Then there is the after work hustle. Stop by the store, go get the children from the sitter or daycare center, rush home, get out the quick food, put on a load of clothes, take a shower, to relax, husband comes in, things are a three-ring circus, the children begin to wish the parents had not come home with all the confusion. Things are piled up around the house, everybody does his own thing (as they say), and on and on it goes. Sound familiar?

Many families never sit down all at the same time for a leisurely meal. One writer of women’s books recommends that a mother should provide a home-cooked meal “at least once a week.” We can do without that kind of advice. The table serves not only as a time for the meal but can be a bonding time for the whole family. It can be a special time for togetherness. Children can put such times in their memory banks as a time, to be cherished. Alas, quite often, mealtime is a nightmare of nervous excitement and pressure to hurry up and get finished so we can clean the table off and wash the dishes. Is it any wonder that many children get ulcers? Surely you have heard the fad-talk these days about something called, “quality-time” and “quantity-time. ” We have borrowed such phrases from sociologists, psychologists and humanistic counselors. Just what are they talking about? Making appointments to be together destroys the spontaneity that should characterize such time regardless of the amount of time under consideration. Brethren, something is wrong when families have to make appointments to be together. Togetherness ought not to be a stereotyped, just this amount of time and no more type of thing. I can never recall my parents setting up an appointment with the children to be together. But, boy, did we have togetherness! It just happened because my Dad made the living and Mama stayed home and kept things going. We had all kinds of time together in the normal course of a properly operated home. When we have our priorities right, mothers being keepers at home, guiding the household, fathers providing the family income, families together at mealtime, working together, performing tasks together, just all being Christians together, praying together, studying together, laughing together, caring, sharing, dear friends, you have a combination that cannot be improved upon. This is because it is God’s arrangement.

Mothers, your children need you at home. Be available when they need you. There can be no substitute for the guiding hand of a godly mother working in conjunction with her husband in the best interest of the home as God would have it to be. Emergency, sickness of a husband, widowhood with children, etc. are the exceptions. We are talking about the rule, not extenuating circumstances. Mothers in Christ, we beg you to think about all we have written here. You know it is right.

Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 12, pp. 366-367
June 15, 1989