Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Why I'm Not a Stay-At-Home Daughter
About a year ago now I first heard of the concept of "stay at home daughters" which is growing in popularity among some fundamentalist branches of Christianity. I was curious so I checked out blogs, books and documentaries on the subject to learn more. Certainly, it is a common arrangement for orthodox Jews and observant Muslims as well as being the standard for much of western history that young unmarried women would continue to live in their parents' home until they wed. Could this be for me? Could I still live with my parents as a 28 year old young woman? Did I need to live with my parents just because I wasn't married? Is this a biblical commandment or just a social preference? What about orphans? What about women who never marry, their parents will probably die before them, what do they do then?
I should preface this by saying that I have nothing wrong with those who choose to be stay-at-home daughters. There are many admirable young women who have made that choice for themselves and I don't knock it one bit - but it's not for me. So while I don't have a problem with the concept, I do have a problem with it being preached as doctrine or as the best or better choice for every young Christian female, and this is why.
I am honoring my parents by supporting myself as an adult young woman
This first and biggest reason that I'm not a stay at home daughter is this - My parents' expectation has always been that I would finish my education and begin to support myself. While I know I could move back with them if needed, as I nearly did after grad school, they would expect me to get a job and pay my own way as much as possible. Part of that expectation of self-reliance was the expectation that I would get an education in order to support myself. My mom is the first to say that college is not for everyone, but some sort of career training was demanded, and in my own case that meant college and then grad school. For me, honoring my parents means that I live on my own and pay my own way.
I was taught to care for a home before leaving my parents' and I continue to learn
Some argue that being a stay-at-home daughter is the best way to learn to care for a home. Learning within the home under the guidance of an experienced house keep is certainly useful, but for me I did not need to stay in my home beyond high school graduation to learn those skills. My mother (and other female friends and family) taught me to sew, cook and clean. My dad even taught me basic home maintenance skills, all before I left home for college. With that strong base of knowledge they provided me with I continue to learn more advanced homemaking and housekeeping skills.
I don't have to live at home to be under my parent's protection
While it would certainly be easier if I lived at home, it's not a requirement. Part of my parents' expectation of independence is that they have already instilled in me their values and trust me to make my own decisions. At the same time, I acknowledge that I sometimes need guidance, and without a spouse, one of my primary sources of guidance is my parents. I can call or text them at any time and I'm always welcome to visit too, so I do not need to be under their roof to be under their protection.
As I started reading about stay-at-home daughters though I did realize one important thing. I may have become too independent. While I will not be moving home any time soon, I did realize that I've shut my parents out more than I need have. When I first got my parents onto facebook I rejected their friend requests because I thought they would get too nosy, worry too much or otherwise try to interfere with my life. Then I realized, maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing after all if they were a little more involved in my life. So I went and friended them.
Around the same time I friended my parents I posted a status about some rustling I was hearing outside my bedroom window and how I wished I had night vision goggles to figure out what it was, even though it was probably just the neighborhood feral cat. A few evenings later my dad called me to check in and see how I was doing and if I ever figured out what was causing the noise. I had never in my life seen my dad be that protective of me, and I know that he probably never would have been had I not opened the door for the opportunity.
I do believe in honoring your parents and respect anyone who maintains a close and quality relationship with them as they grow older, but I don't think all daughters are called to stay at home. For me and my family it's best that I live on my own, but still know that my parents are there and available when needed.
What are your thoughts on being a stay at home daughter? Had you heard of the concept before? Has your family chosen that path? If so, what makes it the best choice for your situation? If not, why is leaving home the best option for your daughters? Has anyone ever heard of a stay at home son?
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