Words of encouragement to all “stay-at-home men/women/moms/dads” in America: The 21st century has ushered in a new set of conditions regarding work, but, also a whole new set of opportunities for men and women just beginning and embarking on family life. And, college education, augments the ability to utilize such skill for work further. This is assuming that the education serves you, rather than an ideology contrary to what you wish for your family.
My prediction, is that while workplaces outside the home will still be necessary in America, there will be a thriving segment of the population who harness the Internet and work at home.
With a more generalized social commentary about gender roles: it used to be, that a grown man’s identity was defined by his job “alone” (foremost). The credibility of his fatherhood, by extension of his job, was based almost entirely on whether or not he “had a good job” (meaning making “lots” of money – eg. a “Rockefeller type”); or, whether he was serving in the armed forces, putting country above personal profit and other selfish ambitions. Those two extreme archetypes, became necessary for all males. These types were lauded, as criterion for the most successful and desirable of men. To some extent, that stereotype lives on in America slightly too fervently still, which is a shame. I say “shame”, because male roles are not black or white. Such roles have abandoned many good men, leaving some unprepared to bridge the gap to more modern definitions of manhood. And we need to remember that generations are linked together. So, none should be left behind as progress continues.
To put unfair gender issues it in context of military terms: are you a weak or ineffective male, only because you killed 500 persons in combat, instead of 501 persons? No!
While I speak of men, traditional expectations of women have so too changed and are still being defined as we speak. Not usually, was a father considered “good” because he was a good person, God loving, and a role model thereby. If he met those characteristics, they were rarely spoken of and rarely publicly lauded – as perception of male weakness was connected to that type. “Successful” men today, are taking on the gender features that were often exclusively female. Artists and trades-persons, they all have a place in our society. They are not less valuable than the most extreme male archetypes. Perhaps more evident today as well, the female “Rockefeller”, is desired by many young men in America, who seek such woman “type” with great attraction.
Regardless of such stereotypes, and gender role definitions, God has plenty of work to go around for everyone who serves Him – prioritizing Him and His teachings, above the corporation (or the group profit, to put it more broadly) is everyone’s responsibility. A man who “stayed at home”, once was considered weak-minded, or weak-willed. But, this is far from true today. Some of the smartest and capable men, permit their wives to excel. And, some of the smartest and capable men, are either exploring home life, or redefining their work.
The male used to derive self worth by his position or job title, before his relationship to God. This is often still true. But that does not dig deep enough. And, his skills of capacity, outside or other than those work tasks (ie. parenting) – were considered rather irrelevant not only to the boss, but to “all of” society as well. A boss needs to ensure proper employment practices. It is not the employer’s place to define the worker. But, the worker has the right to apply religious teaching to whatever he does for work, daily. And, some workplaces are better for this practice than others. This is increasingly and particularly true regarding workplaces that are intolerant of religion. The workplace can be unsafe and inflexible.
Many wives have for many years placed less emphasis on the nurturing role of fathers, in lock-step with employers’ demands of men. Now, as redefinition of manhood has occurred, very capable women are now enjoying the corporate climb – the glass ceiling has cracked; they are working, and they are asking for better pay. Strong willed women, such as Ms. Hillary Clinton, is one such type. Granted, not all women are well suited for certain types of work, or their stature is off-putting; but, men are permitting women to achieve what women have been fighting for, for decades, beginning with greater public inclusion. Male dominated roles such as construction and policing – are no longer for men only. Still, one can be forceful and demanding of such sector inclusion; but, still ultimately without being recognized – the effort remains stalled or forbidden. Yet, military service members are very often women too, today. And younger men, have finally given in at many work sectors… letting go of some selfish pride and stereotype comfort, so that their wives can experience a bit more than the traditional household tasks… tasks which used to be near exclusively female dominated and controlled.
The Internet is leveraging work – allowing for commerce to exist in a newly defined structure. A less “traditional” structure it is for those pioneers, but with new dangers as well. Sure, some people will not take us seriously – our work. As “they” asked Christ to show the piercings in His hands and side, they may ask you to keep proving yourself and the legitimacy of your business. That’s up to you, just how much you wish to engage in conversation with them. Change can often roll over those who wish to gate-keep. Like rushing waters, we can’t be stopped, and this is just the beginning.
What has unequivocally come to pass, is that many otherwise accomplished men have been forced out of the traditional workplace – more meek and less aggressive than the male ancestor was. Or, more willing to adapt. We let our wives achieve in our place, today. And this, despite our skills (or because of our skills), has come about due to the redefinition of manhood and female-hood. Thereby, the smart and capable woman is breaking through the ceiling, and is finding ways to work. This is true at least in societies that encourage female growth and development. This, in no way replaces the male however. The male is still critical to parenthood and everything else. Men are not praying mantis, to be eaten after copulation.
The important thing in any family, regarding gender, is not whether the man or the woman makes more money than the other. Nor, whether both are working, or just one. What is important, is commitment to one another, in which male and female can rely upon one another with trust and fidelity. Having many children in most cases requires both husband and wife to work. If that is the case, both parents have to ensure that they contribute to nurturing their children and providing resources and love. Children should never become a liability to society – rather assets of God, who are entitled to work outside and in the home. The identity of the children will always depend on a stable and protected home life.
A stay-at-home dad/home-maker, can be wonderfully suited for teaching a child what manhood is (in the formative years). Manhood depends, to some great extent, on external societal validations and encouragement; though much more, upon the passing on of religious teachings and the provision of resources as much as it is possible for those loving parents to do. And, as grown children, we need to return much of this love and provision to our aged parents: as much is truly possible.
The most important thing, is not to be selfish, no matter your age. There will be sufficient work for both man and woman, never to be bored or lazy, provided that it is a household that loves and serves God. Because, God gives us daily work. And, regardless of what sector we participate in (whether from home or located elsewhere), we must bring God to our work. The workplace should never be isolated from the teachings that should rule over our lives – and rule over every product and service that we engage ourselves in. And, if our religion is seen as a hostile force in our workplace, then we too are being rejected and undervalued. We need not preach to our colleagues every day nor be disruptive; rather, we must carry our teachings with us subtly and find creative ways daily, to incorporate Gods Word into the tasks. If your boss disagrees with you, and is not a “person of faith”, then you best find a more suitable workplace. And again, this points again, in the direction and strength of utilizing the Internet for your work in some way.
Some “third world” countries are picking up on this trend as well. Their women are in some cases forming female cooperatives, where they manufacture and sell online. It is a wonderful development that shows determination, initiative, courage, and team. It helps to alleviate regional poverty. This is merely one example.