The other morning we were playing store. We picked out toys to sell and made a price list. I started getting into the creative mode and asked David where he got all his money. He didn’t know, so I started prompting him with occupation ideas… a doctor like daddy, a preacher, a pilot. Predictably, David decided he was a pilot.
Then I turned to Bethel to ask her what she did– and stopped. I might have been silent for a whole minute. Although we will encourage her to pursue an education that will allow her to support herself should God not send her a husband, and although she may work as an adult woman, married or not, we want her to view staying at home as a wife and mother a a high calling to be desired. We want to teach her to be a keeper at home, as the Bible puts it in Titus 2:5.
But that doesn’t sound right when we play the game– Bethel gets to stay at home and spend her husband’s money? While her brother gets to choose from a variety of occupations, Bethel is stuck with something mundane? Surely when we’re just playing a game it’s fine for her to talk about what she wants to be.
My parents did a great job communicating the value of being a keeper at home. I remember a preteen talking about jobs, and my mom suggesting a book reviewer because I liked to read, but also because it was a job that was flexible if I had a family. I know we talked many times about the need for flexibility should God send a husband or not. They encouraged hobbies that could supplement a family income or become full-time jobs. We talked about how being a keeper at home was not a job for the faint of heart or mind, contrary to the world’s opinion. I knew from a young age that being at home was challenging and interesting. An eleven year old can easily understand the subtlety here, but what about a three year old?
As I was explaining to Lee, being a keeper at home involves an enormous variety of subskills and jobs that a woman has freedom to choose from. I have far more freedom to develop interests of mine than he does. There’s a wide variety in what each individual keeper at home does. Rather than being limiting, the choice to stay at home gives me tremendous freedom to pursue just about any interest I have.
Here’s the question: How do we communicate the value and priority of being a keeper at home to a three year old? I’m not talking about the skills. I know that my contentment and interest in the job teaches by example. But when we’re playing games, how do I explain in positive terms the lack of options?
When we play store, should I smile benignly when she says she wants to be a Thunderbird pilot, too? The fact is, if David were declaring that he wanted to be a NFL star, I wouldn’t be correcting him at age four to tell him that a football career isn’t very family or church friendly. I wouldn’t tell him that his athletic ability is probably not good enough, even if that is the truth. As he gets older, I’ll encourage him to pursue other avenues, and I’ll share the objections if needed. Should I take the same approach with Bethel?
Maybe this is a good question to ask of some of the older mothers in my church family. I think I might get some interesting answers.