I apologize that this isn’t my normal style of post. It doesn’t have to do with terrorism or world conflict. This is my opinion. There will be others who disagree, and that’s ok. I did not write this to start an argument, or even to begin a discussion. It is something I feel strongly about, and wanted to share, for my child and others. It is part of how I view the world.
There has long been nostalgia for the idyllic times of the 1950s. People like to romanticize this mythical era of family values, of lesser violence, of simpler times. This was the time of ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and ‘Father Knows Best,’ fictional accounts of happy families whose day to day problems could be solved in 30 minutes. These families represented the ideal of the times.
There are those who push back against the want of this seemingly happier time in history. It was wrought with racism, bigotry, sexism (while true, it was not universal). They say nuclear families aren’t necessary for happiness. They say religion is no basis for happy lives. Men don’t need to be “men,” and “women” don’t need to be women. Women shouldn’t strive to be vapid housewives. I’ve heard that women shouldn’t want to be stay-at-home moms because they are to be so much more. A working woman is a happy woman. Women shouldn’t be dependent on anyone, let alone a man.
I ask: is there not a place for that anymore?
As my daughter grows, I want her to know that none of it is wrong. There is a place for traditional families, teaching religion-based values, with stay-at-home feminine moms raising feminine daughters while the father works. In a time when these things are looked down upon, I want my daughter to know that they are still legitimate, that they still have a place in society along with everything and everyone else.
In today’s society, families of all make-ups are acceptable. Single moms, single dads, same-sex parents all share the table with traditional families, yet it’s the traditional families that are deemed old-fashioned and out of date. The mere thought of promoting a traditional family can bring disdain, as if a traditional family automatically means hate. Wonderful children are being raised by families of all types, however, studies continue to show that children in stable, traditional families fare better. It seems, fathers AND mothers know best. And they can coexist in a world of single moms, and two dads, without prejudice.
Just as a father and mother have a place in society, religion has a place in the home today. I am lucky in that my church is one filled – truly – with love. I have never sat through a liturgy filled with hate. Although the Church has a stand on certain issues, they are not preached. What is taught is kindness and forgiveness. That though some may sin, they are not lesser human beings in the eyes of God. Though we may not agree with a person or their choices in life, it does not mean they are worth less or should be demeaned. Of course religion is not required to make a good person. People of one religion aren’t better than those of another. But religion can provide structure for those values we prize, a way to teach and learn. It can provide a community and support for those who have none.
As I stay home to raise my child, I will teach her these things. I have chosen to stop working to raise my child. Of course, I am lucky enough to have a supportive partner. There is no time-frame for me to return to work. I will go back – or not – when or if I am ready. I have worked hard to get my degree in a field I love, but I love my baby more. There is nothing more important to me than raising a good person. In my case, a good person, a good woman, can come in the form of a stay-at-home mom who chooses to dress like a lady, who happily cooks dinner, and who prays. I want my daughter to know that a woman doesn’t need to measure her self-worth by how much she makes, or if she can juggle a family and career. Women don’t need to “have it all” to be a successful woman or person. She can be happy taking care of the family. What better a person than a kind, generous, caring person?
The world is full of contradictions, and my daughter’s mother is no exception. I am proud to be a smart, educated, self-sufficient woman. At the same time, I want to be in a committed family relationship with a strong, caring, masculine man. Feminine women are not weak or submissive. Dresses and heels do not mean a woman is conforming to a sexist ideal, but can be seen as embracing the woman. I don’t want my daughter to think she has to dress in a revealing manner to attract men, nor do I want her to think she has to dress masculine to prove she isn’t giving in to a beauty standard. I want her to be proud of being a woman, that she is different from a man. And I want her to not be afraid recognizing that difference. While there are many women that can do the same things men can, there are many more that cannot. And that’s ok. A girl must find her own role in life, not be forced into one by pressures from men or other women.
Finally, men. This could be a dissertation in itself. Even though her father and I will provide guidance, it’s something my daughter will have to learn along the way, as with all people. But men don’t need to be neatly categorized into good feminist men, and bad masculine men. A strong, religious, old-fashioned man does not automatically mean misogynistic. Traditional gender roles still produce a respectful, devoted, caring, generous man, a man who will provide for his family while teaching his daughter to be self-sufficient. A good man will protect his family, but also encourage independence.
These are, of course, all universal values; no one era owns them. Unfortunately, many of them seem to have been lost to today’s anything goes attitude. Traditional roles and values aren’t so traditional anymore, as more and more people shun them as old-fashioned or even harmful. Sadly, those people are only looking at those who have twisted the meaning and sentiment. Traditional roles and values don’t automatically mean racism or misogyny. It means strong, resilient, and respectful. And these are qualities I want my daughter to have.