Women in the Church have it hard. I remember being told in Young Women’s that we should follow the prophet’s counsel and pursue an education, but there were parameters. We needed to find a career that we would not only love but also one with a flexible schedule so that we could be working moms if needed.
To this day, I still struggle with myself over career versus romantic relationships. As a single, young adult woman, both marriage and career are important to me. But while I do have some control over the fate of my career, there is no guarantee I will get married.
There is a chance that for the rest of my life, I will rely on my career and finances alone. So I focus on my career and education, pursuing internships and opportunities one after another. But do I stop dating? No. I continue to try my luck with dating, doing what I can to work towards marriage. While a relationship requires two individuals to both mutually agree to be there together, my career is dependant on me, myself, and I—no one else.
The World We Live In
Pew Research Center recently conducted a survey on Marriage and Cohabitation in the U.S. and the results were shocking.
The survey found that most Americans do not believe marriage is essential to living a fulfilled life. While only 16% of men and 17% of women said being married was essential, 57% of men and 46% of women said having a job or career they enjoy was essential to a fulfilled life.
In today’s society, the family has slowly become less and less important. The rise of feminism and the rise in the cost of living have led more and more women to work. Focusing on the family has become less important, as our world has become more materially focused. So what can we do when we are deciding whether to work or not as mothers? We want to make sure our families are taken care of, but we also might need to work.
Looking to Our Leaders
We currently have wonderful women who lead and guide our Relief Society. These women are examples to me of what I should strive to be in my life. Four of the ten women hold graduate degrees. Four of the ten are stay-at-home moms. Nine of the ten work outside of the home.
Many of these women have not only been wives and mothers but also have impressive resumes. Before becoming a director in the Publishing Services Department of the Church, Sister Browning previously worked at Morgan Stanley, a global investment bank. Sister Draper earned a master’s degree from Fordham University and currently works for LDS Family Services. Sister Mullen serves on the Relief Society board but continues to teach at Brigham Young University.
Each of these women has a different background. Each of them has taken a different path to get to be where they are now. I believe they are stellar examples of wonderful wives and working moms whom we can look up to and strive to be like.
Between You and the Lord
While The Family: A Proclamation to the World specifies roles for fathers and mothers, it does NOT state that earning money is specific to one gender. I believe that as long as each of the responsibilities detailed in the Proclamation is being fulfilled, the Lord does not care WHO takes care of what responsibility. In fact, the Proclamation says that fathers and mothers should work together as equal partners, so why can’t both parents work?
“Fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. ” – The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The War Between Women
Seeking for my own guidance, I turned to three women who chose different paths for their lives: a full-time working mother, a part-time working mother, and a full-time stay-at-home mother.
What I found was that all women experience guilt of some kind regardless of which career path they chose. Working moms say they feel guilty for leaving their children day after day to return to work, guilt for having another person raise their children, guilt for missing out on their child’s life. They feel like the world judges them for leaving their family behind.
Stay-at-home mothers feel guilty when they are asked, “What do you do for work?” and they respond, “I am a stay-at-home mom.” They feel like the world judges them for not contributing to society when in reality, the work that is done in the home is some of the most important work in the world. Their hard work isn’t rewarded with promotions or recognition.
Rather than have a war between women, we should look at one another with less judgment and more love. You are a daughter of a king and nothing you do can diminish your worth. The only opinion that really matters is that of our Heavenly Father. Our feedback to others should be out of love and understanding.
A Mother’s Decision to Work
Regardless of your opinion on this issue, I believe we can all agree that parenting should be the most important job an adult with children has. Kids deserve to live in a home where they are loved and taken care of. The way that each household makes that work is a personal decision, one that may take lots of prayer and fasting. While most Americans may not think marriage is essential to a fulfilling life, a Pew survey from 2018 found that 69% of people were likely to mention family when describing what provides them with a sense of meaning.
I believe we all need to be more accepting of one another’s decisions and to stop judging. Stop judging women who break the traditional mold and decide to become working moms, and stop judging women who decide to stay home and be full-time moms. We should let each husband and wife decide what is best for their own family. That decision is between the couple and the Lord. If the woman wants to be a stay-at-home mom, wonderful! Motherhood is a dying and an underappreciated career path. If the woman wants to work, wonderful! Women are needed and valuable in the workplace.
Whatever you, your spouse, and the Lord decide is best for you, your family, and your life is what you should pursue. Only you can receive revelation on the path for your life.